Dysfunction As The Norm In The Land Of Status Quo
While voters were busy painting the map red across much of the nation on Election Day (often forgetting that the party now returned to office is the very same that brought us to the economic brink while turning a huge surplus into a record deficit), New Yorkers, with rare exception, were busy maintaining the status quo.
Apparently, we like -- no, we enjoy -- the stagnation and dysfunction of Albany, having dimmed (though not extinguished, the final tallies still to come) the hopes of the GOP to wrestle the State Senate from the weak, clammy hands of the listless Democrats. [Not that putting the Republicans, who reigned in the State Senate for some forty years prior to the Dems taking a slim margin two years ago, would portend much in the way of change, history being our guide].
While both the Dems and the GOPers are claiming to have taken the Senate (several districts still too close to call the morning after the election), a margin of a seat or two -- or even the possibility of a 31-31 tie -- does not for forward progress make.
For Long Island, where being in the red means minority status in blue New York, it would, no doubt, have been a true coup had State Senator Dean Skelos (perhaps the smartest guy in Albany, politically, if not otherwise) were to be elevated from Minority Leader to Majority Leader. This can still happen, of course, in the event that the closest of the races go the Republican's way.
Then again, even assuming, for argument sake, that the GOP retakes the State Senate, what chance do we have of making strides on such significant issues as property tax relief and school finance reform (let alone Gay marriage), with the Senate in the hands of the folks who, for nearly half a century, failed to advance a progressive agenda, and, perhaps even more foretelling, with Sheldon Silver, the Speaker of the Assembly with an agenda all his own, continuing to ride roughshod over that body, an immoveable object in a town where movement itself is imperceptable?
And while New Yorkers were savvy enough to have rejected the notion that afternoon tea parties trump the morning coffee klatsch, sending Carl Paladino and his baseball bat back to Buffalo [Carl said we haven't heard the last of him. No doubt. He'll be back in Albany, sans bat, looking to take more of the taxpayers' money to bolster his personal real estate empire], we are, apparently, still clueless here on the Island, electing, for instance, a neophyte, born and bred in the nepotistic incubator that is Hempstead Town Hall, without a shred of community activism on record, to the Assembly seat vacated by a seasoned veteran who lived and breathed compromise and community. We still don't get it, do we?
No, there's not all that much to cheer about here in New York, the Governor-elect's call for all New Yorkers to unite in rebuilding the Empire State aside.
Whichever way the wind blows in the State Senate, and whatever fresh air Mr. Silver may allow to flow into the Assembly chamber, if any, doubtful that our next Governor, as astute a political strategist as he may be, can upend the stagnation, the partisanship, the inane bickering over minutia, that has become institutionalized in Albany.
"What's old is new again" seems to have been the theme in this year's elections, nationally. Here in New York, one can barely distinguish old from new, or, for that matter, yesterday from tomorrow. It's as though time itself stood still, with yet another dark, cold winter about to descend upon State Street, and an even longer two years towing the line that has been and continues to be the status quo.