Saturday, August 04, 2007

Politics in Monmouth: A natural change?

Politics has become something of a blood sport in Northern Monmouth County, which is a shame because it only became that way a few years ago. Perhaps it was inevitable that partisan politics would be taken to such extremes as lawsuits and regular altercations between GOP hardliners and reform-minded Republicans, Democrats or just people who disagreed with the status quo in county, respectively.

There was a time, not so long ago, when a more-harmonious Monmouth County Republican Party had unobstructed access and rule over the county. That group was comprised of distinct elements, which might be referred to as: conservative, moderate, grassroots or just financially interested. Somehow, that stew of interests got along together for about a quarter-century, overseen by another group of county politicians that some people referred to as "the Old Guard." These folks, for the sake of brevity, were the GOP's latter day Founding Fathers in Monmouth. Their leadership was unquestioned for many years and so this group of people were able to, in my opinion, keep the peace. Over time, these leaders left the stage, for one reason or the other, and a few cliques got together and tried to take charge, either compelling others to do what they wanted or running people out of the party. Like the tides, this is the nature of political change.

All things change. And yet no single political party is entitled to leadership by simple virtue of its existence anywhere in this country. Elections are times when the lease is renewed by the votership about who sits in political power. If taxes are low, or cut if they become too high, and if public services are where they are supposed to be, then no amount of political insider fighting, banter or hijinks will change the status quo. Contrastly, if things are not as they could be, and taxpayers feel they could do better, then they will.

Political speculators, the papers and the talking heads make too much of the insider stuff. When voters think they can find a way to shave the tax rate and get a governmental emphasis they like, then they do it. That sounds far more likely than the "intrigue models" being widely used. Monmouth is home to an educated middle- and upper-class, and they vote. People like getting a good deal in office holders, which is characterized as "grassroots popularity." The idea that candidates have to possess grassroots popularity is one that is endangered. Well, if people do not have such popularity then they do not get elected. But to purposefully divert from that concept seems odd.

So where does that leave all of the insider bickering going on in the GOP? It's interesting to watch, but unnecessarily caustic. Democrats are more viable today than in years past because the GOP left a door open with its infighting and some of the policy decisions some of its holders made. There's really not all that much to it.

These are times when many GOP enthusiasts are trying to find 'devils' responsible for making that party appear bad. There's an old saying about 'shooting messengers.' When it comes down to it, the only people that can make the GOP look the GOP. In politics, when money and not service becomes the most important thing then the inevitable can happen, which is a change in voter emphasis. I think people inside the game tend to negate the cognitive abilities of voters. I tend to believe the quickest trip to an answer is a straight line using common sense.

I certainly hope things change, but then again I'm not holding my breath.

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