IGNORING OUR DIGNITY

Arthur H. Gunther III

ahgunther@yahoo.com

I won’t vote for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the popular New Yorker seeking re-election. Nor would I for President Obama, if he were able to run anew, though I supported him twice. And I will be pleased when Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, steps down. Why no support for these three? Not because of their abilities or accomplishment, though each man in each category is subject to grades ranging from A-plus down. Both have been electable and applaudable for service. Yet these officials fail my confidence test, a right of my citizenship. And, I suspect they are the tip of the iceberg in a society that offers systemic indifference to the ordinary person.

It is a little thing, my motivation that drops these three from the nice list, but it was small things becoming bigger that led us to our American Revolution and changes for the better, or at least the hope of those, hope still being chased.

Each of these men are in highly visible, important, powerful positions where the expectation of good and full service to the citizenry is a given. The president and the New York governor ran for office as approachable people who empathized with the growing concerns of Americans without jobs, or long-lasting ones, or decently paid ones or ones that will put and keep them in the bulwark middle class that marks stable democracy.

They were cheered on, these two, and sent off to do their work. But then the doors slammed behind them, locking out the people. Handlers came in, pros they are in security, in media control, in distancing the “men of the people” from, well the people. The ordinary men and women of these great United States are held back by these handlers, who would lock down the universe to keep their man away from humanity, from regular concerns, hopes, heartache, the yin and yang of living.

How real is it for a president, a governor in office? Their lifestyle is not like most people. Yes, they see the death-bringing results of war, of natural disaster, but then they return to comfortable quarters after the handlers have arranged a trip or two.

When you write these leaders, as I did several times to Obama, Cuomo and to the appointed but still-in-the-trust-of-the-people Bharara, snail-mail letters even, as I sent off  to the governor and the U.S. attorney, cogent, well-thought-out argument that required answers from those in our employ, in our trust, the answers never came. Acknowledgment of the letters never came. And the president, whose office bragged that it would be the first to set up an e-mail response system, failed mightily, with no replies, no acknowledgement of missives.

That is bad form. It is not democratic form. It is rude and insensitive and snubbing behavior. It matters not that my questions may have been relatively small ones, not so imperative as foreign affairs and state budget woes. Communication with the people is never un-important. Little things add up and become symbolic of high-and-mighty affront that ignores the people and their concerns, their needs, most of all their dignity.

The system no longer works, and if the snubbing of the common man and woman continues, democracy is in trouble. We cannot elect high-placed people nor see grand poohbahs in important positions who are then shut behind doors and kept from public discourse.

So, I would not vote for Obama, Cuomo, Bharara or anyone who ignores we, the people, even if it is their staffs doing the insulting deed. That makes it even worse, adding to their distance from the citizenry.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at ahgunther@yahoo.com This essay may be reproduced.

3 thoughts on “IGNORING OUR DIGNITY

  1. Once again a beautifully written and as always, cogent blog. No longer a New Yorker, I am distanced a bit by Andrew Cuomo but I do read what my union [NYSUT] writes about him and his policies. The son is definitely not the father.

    As for the president whom I voted for twice I am more ambivalent. What you write about Obama’s availability to the common folk is true but I wonder how much of it is the job itself. I suspect that since Andy Jackson had common folk climbing in the White House windows at his inauguration the presidency has been at arm’s length from those who supported the candidate’s election.

    If truth be told, progressive Democrats have me by the throat. Even when they are slow to institute their policies or at times change direction, where am I to go in November? If I may put a new spin on a Churchill quote. “The Democratic party is a very bad party, but all the others are so much worse.” People may not prefer Hillary Clinton in 2016 but the thought of a President Cruz or President Paul scares the bejeebers out of me.

    • Very good points, Howard. Yes, it is the job, though the person at the top can force the system to change. And let us call it what it us, not a President Whatever, but perhaps in reality a President Koch.

  2. Hi Arthur:

    I composed a comment regarding the Facebook photo of your oil painting of the snow scene. For some reason, it never posted, so I share those thoughts with you now:

    Your painting very much reminds me of Rockland many decades ago. Winters were quiet. You may recall that in the 1950’s there was no local radio station or TV and certainly no weather satellites. Weather forecasting was for all intents and purposes non-existent. As the school day came to a close and we boarded the buses for the ride home it began to snow, heavily, very heavily. By the time the bus arrived at my stop off Union Road there was at least 8 inches of fresh powder on the road through which we were forced to trudge to get to our homes. That situation would never be allowed to happen today. I treasure the memory.

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