Friday, August 18, 2006

The Universe Favors Chaos

Can Long Island Be Far Behind?

Will Rogers had it right when he said, "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat."

Nowhere is the disorganization, disarray, and all too frequently, disconnect, more apparent than in our own backyard of Nassau County.

Face it, when Joe Mondello, the Republican Party chief, says "Jump," the response from the faithful is a swift and unequivocal, "How high?"

On the other hand, when Jay Jacobs, Nassau's Democratic Party Chair, says "Jump," there is an almost deafening silence, followed by a couple of octagenarians waking out of a stooper, scratching their heads, and quietly whispering to one another, "Did you hear something?" [Nassau County Dems even have trouble getting a decent website up and running!]

Not to take anything away from Jay, or to give Joe more than his due (lest it go to his head), but that's just the way it is. The nature of the beast.

Where the GOPers march in lock-step -- good soldiers to the last -- Dems typically can't put one foot in front of the other without tripping all over themselves. You would never see the likes of a Corbin/Altmann rebellion in the Nassau GOP, where dissent is discouraged, and those who would rock the boat or, heaven forbid, "clean house," are routinely put in their place.

Where Republicans follow party line without question, or even thought, their compatriots across the aisle can barely draw a straight line. Where the GOP faithful respond to the call to rally, to vote, to steal lawn signs, Democrats are loathe to get out from under the bed covers and open the blinds.

The Republicans in these parts, if not elsewhere around the nation, have developed an intricate network, where orders flow from the top down, where disobedience is not only frowned upon, but duly punished.

Democrats, on the other hand, rarely seem to even speak with one another, let alone effectively communicate with either other registered Dems or the masses, and while the GOP seeks to maintain and reinforce the fiefdoms and political infrastructure that literally feeds into the near-perfect (to the public eye) monolithic mechanism it has built, the Democrats, even if for the benefit of the whole, look, at every turn, to dismantle the time-worn machine -- using a cotton swab as their only tool.

If the GOP regulars are likened to soldiers, taking direction from their Lieutenants, who in turn follow orders from the Generals above them, the Democrats must be viewed as campers engaged in a perpetual tug of war with both their counselors and each other.

Even Jay Jacobs, quite familiar with summer camp Color Wars and other such sport, has to wonder how he can bring these boys and girls together for the closing ceremonies! [Sorry, Jay. Unlike the camp season, the political season never ends, no one wants to pick up the dust bunnies under the beds, and you can't send the bad kids home for breaking the rules or being bad sports...]

As in most of America, where the divide between red and blue grows wider by the hour, there is a sense here on Long Island that, where Republicans are on message, the Democrats have no message; where the GOP is steadfast and strong-willed (often to the point of straining credulity and suspending all belief, if not constitutional rights and privileges), the Dems falter, stumble, and get lost in their own words; where Republicans seem practical and united, their Democratic rivals too often wax philosophical, appearing disjointed and without direction.

Long Islanders, not unlike the majority of the electorate, aren't much enamored with change. Change frightens most folks, really. Even when things aren't so good, why take a chance that they could be a heck of a lot worse? [Truth be told, were it in the hands of LIers, the colonies would still be a part of the British Empire!]

We, the stalwarts of Long Island, concede, in poll after poll, survey after survey, that life on our island -- from property taxes to housing, education to street cleaning -- leaves much to be desired. We are, as a lot, generally dissatisfied. And yet, with minor aberration when things get really bad, we are reluctant to do anything other than to stay the course -- icebergs on the horizon be damned.

Indeed, we often stand defiant in the face of change, insistent on paying more while getting less, just so we can preserve the sameness we have become accustomed to.

Historically, and we can see no real deviation here on Long Island, the Democrats have represented change, a break from that "same Schmitt, different day," while the Republicans have stood firmly for keeping things as they are -- or, as many believe, the way they were at a time when there were more potato fields in Nassau County than there were housing tracts.

Perhaps the difference between Democrats and Republicans can be summed up this way (keeping in mind that it is often perception of reality that counts most, and not reality itself): The Republicans are resolute and decisive, of one mind, speaking with a single voice. The Democrats, on the other hand, are more ambivalent and circumspective, of less certain mind, speaking with a thousand voices. One is absolute, almost totalitarian order; the other, a somewhat less calculated, laissez-faire approach, sometimes resembling bedlam.

Which of these divergent scenarios best embodies democracy (with a small "d") -- that fragile political system that America seeks to both monopolize and internationalize -- is, we suppose, for you to decide.

We'll leave it at this. The universe, as we know, favors chaos. So too, in a practical sense, does democracy.
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For more discussion on the differences between Democrats and Republicans, take a look at the following sites:

On The Issues -- Democrats vs. Republicans: What Do They Believe?

"Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays"

The Justice Caucus (a Democratic perspective)

The American Voice Pocket Guide

You Tube (a decidedly Liberal Perspective)

The Veiled Chameleon (a decidedly Right Wing perspective)

The Democratic Party

The Republican Party

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