Primary 2015: Love and affection for the machine.


It’s ain’t nuclear physics: DemoDisneyDixiecratic Party critics were hammered, and most of the anointed passed through.

Gahan handily defeats White in New Albany mayoral primary

Benedetti loses seat in New Albany Democratic primary

There are perils to analysis in a primary, given that it is an exercise designed to aggrandize the party faithful at the expense of most other rational considerations. For this reason, and in spite of his commendable bravado and self-confidence, it wasn’t ever going to be easy for David White in challenging King Hologram. David himself seemed to realize this as the campaign progressed, commenting to me at one point that while he thought his opponent was the incumbent mayor, it actually was the Machine.

But of course it was, and is. That’s the whole point: To maximize power by reducing friction.

The party chairman occupies a seat at Redevelopment, and the party treasurer is the city attorney. Megabuck capital projects pass through these hands, and campaign finance is monetized accordingly, as it has in any municipal machine that ever existed, anywhere.

Machines are not designed to be open and transparent systems. They are not intended to tolerate the existence of David White. Rather, they are built to channel money and power in predictable directions. This is what the Democratic Party machine in New Albany does. It’s what it did yesterday.

David tried to poke the machine from within, and he found that when it comes time to gather together for a round of Kumbaya and Bud Light longnecks, only members of the clique need apply. Outsider stay outside. That’s why there’s a pass code.

In like fashion, with Dan Coffey increasingly assertive in his role as rubber-jowled Luca Brasi to Gahan’s stately impersonation of Vito Corleone, and deploying vast portions of city council time in orchestrating various petty takedowns of Diane Benedetti — the only council Democrat to consistently question the Corleone administration — we now find Benedetti sleeping with the fishes, in purely political terms.

Barring the unexpected, the way is paved for yet another pliant, rubber-stamp council, suitable for City Hall’s use only when a stitch or three of political cover is needed for a pre-ordained expenditure (see “monetizing,” above).

Yesterday’s primary election results argue persuasively for rage against the machine — against the clique, the usual suspects, the fix, and business as usual. I suspect that in the months to come, Republican nominee Kevin Zurschmiede will be making this case, although he, too, has a machine of his own to honor, albeit it of less horsepower in the city.

I have no machine at all. but for those seeking a democratic critique of the current Democratic machine, I’ll be offering it in the months to come.