by Jay A. McCalla
Watching the Perils of Obama over the last 6 1/2 years, we’ve learned that a legislative majority is as important to a political agenda as luggage to a traveler. You ain’t going very far without it.
In his first two years, our freshly minted leader slept well knowing his party was in charge of the U.S. Congress. His dreams and hopes would be prospered by sympathetic folks. That’s exactly what a governing majority is for.
Let’s consider our own great city and the dazzling domination of the Democratic Party.
We are the poorest big city in America with a “deep poverty” rate of 12.2 percent, twice the national average, and an overall rate of poverty standing near 30 percent. We’re dead last in “positive health outcomes” in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have a 40 – 50 percent dropout rate from our degenerated public schools.
With the election of the late Joseph Clark in 1951, 67 years of Republican political control was ended and a 64-year Democratic Dynasty was set in motion. Philadelphia became a “one party town” with Democrats controlling every elected office, except those three (one City Commissioner and to Council at Large seats) guaranteed by the City Charter to the “minority.” Judges, councilmembers, state reps & senators, mayors, congresspeople and sheriffs — all Democrats for almost three quarters of a century.
Despite Democrats’ stupefying political power, we are afflicted with unabated gun violence, pandemic corruption, an under-developed Fairmount Park, atrophied public health network, frequent water main breaks, abandoned houses in the tens of thousands and much more.
The evidence suggests we are governed by a party that is not in meaningful companionship with our needs. Could it be that this vast, venerated labyrinth of Democrats is truly unbound by common, animated principals, but just a raft of “survivors” waiting for their ineluctable reelection and plump pensions?
Don’t get me wrong, Democratic leadership has produced The Avenue of the Arts, The Constitution Center, new hotels, a regional quality Convention Center and a bouquet of other amenities that make Philadelphia a world-class city. These are the almost single-handed works of Mega Booster Ed Rendell and demonstrate what is possible when concentrated power is wielded by a politician who looks beyond his own, mere self-perpetuation.
Genial though they may seem, “Party Boys” Bob Brady and John Dougherty run a closed shop preoccupied with jobs, contracts and deals. From inside the party’s “kitchen,” we are served “connected” men and women, while reformers and outsiders are greeted like Ebola-carrying serial killers.
Their crepuscular cocoon facilitates corruption on a scale so icky that virtually every Democratic Traffic Court judge was on trial for criminality and the court itself was ultimately closed like a vermin-infested restaurant.
Where is the plan to make Fairmount Park (larger than all of Monaco) an American Versailles? Where is the embrace of our many, many historical properties that decay and are routinely demolished? Heck, where is the plan — a real plan — to provide a public school system that attracts new residents and secures the futures of our children?
Voters note the preoccupation with casinos and numerous crises and perceive the absence of bold dreams and high aspirations. They vote with their posteriors and stay home on Election Day.
The late Jimmy Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was relentlessly targeted by the US Justice for his relationship with organized crime and ultimately went to prison for jury tampering. Despite his bare-faced corruption, he made sure his union members had the best wage and benefits packages. Teamsters were the envy of the American labor movement.
My proposition is simple. The party gets to continue their shrouded vulgarities and forge ahead with jobs for their nefarious nephews and clueless cousins. In exchange, they must provide that rising tide that lifts all boats and makes more hopeful the lives of our children.