Sunday, March 11, 2012

Trickle Down Politics

The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”
  • Within an article by Will Rogers in the St. Petersburg Times - Nov 26, 1932

I found that quote while looking to nail down the source of a quote the Las Cruces Sun-News credited NM State Senator Eric Griego with. It was in a story about the "pre-primary convention" held today in Albuquerque by the Democratic Party. The voting took hours and Griego told the Sun-News:

"We're Democrats. We're not part of any organized party." 

The original, by Rogers, who lived 1879-1935:

"I am not a member of any organized party. I'm a Democrat." 

In New Mexico the two major parties tightly control who gets to run for office and who doesn't, and you have to be approved by party members at "pre-primary" vetting conventions like the one held today before you can get on the ballot.

Griego is one of three Democrats who want to fill the 1st US Congressional District house seat being vacated by Martin Heinrich, who is running for the US Senate. The others are former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michele Grisham, all three of whom got enough votes from party members for their candidacies to proceed.

Of note at today's convention, I thought, were the vote totals for the two men who want to run as Democrats to fill the seat of retiring US Senator Jeff Bingaman: New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas, who I wrote about once before, and Heinrich, who I've also written about.

Balderas has been polling 17 to 30 points behind Heinrich and is way behind in fundraising and name recognition, and an early sampling of "pre-primary convention" delegates had him trailing 47-30.

Today Heinrich received 907 delegate votes. Balderas got 749, or 45 percent.

Could it be that people are tiring of Heinrich?

It hasn't been much of a campaign between those two. Their campaign ads, their interviews, are nothing but vague, general, and very tepid Democratic boiler plate. Balderas has the backing of some union locals, Heinrich the backing of some big internationals. The winner will likely face Republican Heather Wilson, and word came down early from the national Democratic Party that primary contenders should go easy on each other so as not to ruin the party's chances of retaining the senate seat, and Balderas has been doing exactly that.

So I don't know what to expect from Balderas, but I do know what to expect from Heinrich, going by his record in the US House. Nothing. He's followed the pattern set down by Bingaman in his almost 30 years in the senate, which, incidentally, coincides with the time during which Republicans have controlled the political discourse in the US while wages and living standards of working people steadily declined and while income and wealth gaps between the rich and the rest of us slid back to 1920s levels, while Democrats sat by and did nothing except figure out how to keep their own jobs.

During those 30 years of trickle down economics, which, as Will Rogers knew, is nothing but a gimmick to redistribute wealth upwards, Bingaman and his acolyte Heinrich have followed the same strategy. Keep your name out of the papers, say nothing controversial, and when there's a contentious battle going on, one that pits the interests of rich potential donors versus the working people who elected you, remain in your office until it's over, then issue a strongly worded press release stating your strongly held convictions on the issue. And above all, don't do anything that might lead anyone to believe you're an advocate for working people. A little of that talk is alright during your election campaigns. You do need their votes, after all. But as far as actually doing anything to help working folks, like introducing legislation, attending rallies, making speeches or getting something in the media that might begin to counterbalance 30 years of non stop right wing propaganda, don't you do it.


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