Friday, January 19, 2007

"They let me stay up all night!"

Stockholm Syndrome Traced To Long Island Electorate

There's been much discussion of the so-called Stockholm Syndrome surrounding the two kidnapped teens from Missouri, particularly in Nancy Grace circles.

Yes, history is replete of instances where those held against their will become sympathetic -- in some cases befriending and even defending -- those who had taken them hostage in the first place. There's Patti Hearst. Natascha Kampusch. And, of course, Homer Simpson.

The most pronounced, and certainly most prolific, case of Stockholm Syndrome -- though, apparently, little research has been done on this [alert the Rauch Foundation so they can fund a study by the Long Island Index] -- is that which has been unwittingly embraced over the years by Long Island voters. We call it, The Gulotta Syndrome.

The Gulotta Syndrome, named for former Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta, is, simply put, the voters' knee-jerk response to bad -- or, at best, ineffective -- government: If they tax you to the hilt, ignore your every request, nail you to the proverbial cross, and otherwise screw you royally -- year in and year out -- send them back to office for another term.

Be it Albany, Mineola, or Hempstead, let them stick bamboo shoots under our nails and tell us that we're enjoying it, and we'll give them our votes, our money, and, if called upon, our first born.

We won't be naming names here -- we've done that and have been there on these many blog posts over the years -- but you know full well exactly what we're talking about.

The guy in the State Senate whose presence there pre-dated Rip Van Winkle's repose. The party in power at Hempstead Town Hall, where democracy hasn't seen the light of day since this time, last century. The County Seat in Mineola, where it took a free fall into the abyss of financial ruin to shake us out of the Stockholm (Gulotta) Syndrome, and, even then, we sympathized, patronized, and, at least among the GOP faithful, pined for a return to the "good old days" (ala the intended resurrection of Greg Peterson).

What are we thinking when we re-elect those to whom we have entrusted responsibility, accountability and transparency (not to mention our tax dollars), and who demonstrate anything but?

Where are our heads when we look at our school tax bills -- STAR relief notwithstanding -- and lay blame at the feet of our children by defeating school budgets, while letting our State Legislators (who fund and mandate -- without funds) off the hook on election day?

Our captors here on Long Island -- and up in Westchester, Monroe and Niagara -- taunt us with promises of freedom, whether in the form of a "rebate" check or a redeveloped downtown, and yet, having heard the unfulfilled promises -- year in and year out -- we yield to the empty messages delivered by way of Murraygram, campaign flyer, or Madison Avenue TV spot.

"We'd pay twice as much," they tell us, for corrupt fiefdoms, redundant services, and government inefficiency, and darned if they aren't right. We DO pay twice as much -- if we're lucky, four times -- and still, the local papers endorse, and we cast our votes.

"Go back to Albany for another 2 years -- or 20!"

The Gulotta Syndrome is not a malady confined to the individual voter, we fear. Indeed, it has spread like wildfire to community groups, far and wide.

Why, just attend a meeting of the local Rotary, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce or Civic Association, and, between bites into the Sweedish meatballs at pasta night, you'll hear nothing but praise for our elected officials.

Yes, we publicly pat them on the backs for simply doing the jobs they were elected to do. Worse still, we've been known to pat them on the backs in the vain hope that they might one day actually do the jobs we elected them to do!

Forget allusions to Stockholm or Gulotta Syndromes -- or even to the China Syndrome, as those tax bills leach their way through our wallets and the lining of our pockets [why, we would drink Strontium-laden water from the Hudson River if they told us it was safe] -- our adherence to the status quo, at our own expense, is nothing short of mass insanity.

Psychologists note several factors that may lead the hostage to embrace -- sometimes even join with -- the hostage taker:

-Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one's captor is willing to act on that threat ["We'll cut garbage collection back to SIX days per week if you eliminate special districts"];

-The captive's perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror ["Look how much we do for you with your tax money? See those three bricks in the sidewalk, and that Victorian-style lamp post across the street? Nice, right? You owe it all to us!" NOTE: In certain cases (notably, GOP Committeemen), the phrase "small kindnesses" is to be interpreted as "a job at Town Hall, as a supervisor at the Sanitary District, or checking meters for the Water District"];

-Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor ["If you don't do as we say, we'll make you move to Elmont -- or worse, spend your winters commuting to and from Albany!"];

-Perceived inability to escape [Face it. The folks on Lost have a better chance of getting off their island than we do ours!]

Of course, that's all psychobabel. It is the elected who should feel threatened, not the electors. The future existence of any of our elected "representatives" rests entirely in our hands. Our survival requires decisive and determined action on our part, not acquiesence nor apathy.

Those "small kindnesses" cost you plenty, and those BIG "kindnesses" -- the ones that bear the name of your State or local legislator) -- cost you even more! We need to look beyond the promises, the bread crumbs and chicken-feed, the hamburger helper doled out in member item grants, and neighborhood "improvements" that go no deeper than the facade. EXPECT BETTER! DEMAND MORE!

We are not alone, and opposing viewpoints offering reasonable alternatives (inclusive of this blog) are out there, all around us. All we have to do is to open our ears, our eyes, and our minds. EMBRACE CHANGE!

As for the "perceived inability to escape," well, they may have us on that one. Have you ever gotten on to the LIE, the Northern State, or the Southern State during rush hour, or attempted to traverse the Meadowbrook, on summer's hottest day, en route to Jones Beach?

Maybe we can't get away. Well, then, it is high time we made a stand. Right here. On our Long Island.

Yes, as Homer Simpson said of his captors, "They let me stay up all night!"

Let's not Blame it on Rio -- or even Ra, for that matter. Let's take stock in our strength as Long Islanders, in our courage as New Yorkers, in our ability to punch our own ticket to freedom as voters, and plan, not our escape, but our retaking of representative government.

From the State House to Town Hall, do not accept either flippant platitudes or vacant promises as solutions, and never allow yourself to be held hostage by ineptitude, inefficiency, or a government that has simply given up on every one of us.


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