ON THE AVENUES: Straight tickets, unsociable media and whether Democrats should rally around Gahan’s gallows pole.


ON THE AVENUES: Straight tickets, unsociable media and whether Democrats should rally around Gahan’s gallows pole.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

The Kool-Aid vats have been emptied, and the only remaining trace of the homegrown Rice Krispies Treats is an oily patina of weedy redolence emanating from the unwashed Tupperware.

It must be time again to review ancient history, so let’s jump into the scrum to the accompaniment of dulcet tones.

All the way back on November 6 — one whole month ago! — the Floyd County Democratic Party absorbed its third consecutive electoral contraction. Mayor Jeff Gahan and an increasingly motley crew of four city council men (alas, no women allowed) are the party’s last line of defense in terms of elected officials.

Those sycophants and lickspittles appointed to populate boards and to staff municipal bailiwicks stand forlornly like so many dominoes, ready to be toppled if anyone from either party whose name isn’t “Gahan” becomes mayor in 2020.

It’s not unlike the Alamo, albeit a last-ditch bastion filled with bureaucratic functionaries and dull time-servers, rather than fabled action heroes like Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.

But David Bowie had a song about heroes, and here’s another of his numbers, as channeled by Nirvana.

Who knows? Not me
We never lost control
You’re face to face
With the man who sold the world

Or, in the case of New Albany, the mayor who sold the city – to special interests. More on that in a moment, but first, a new episode of “Why We Fight (on Social Media)”.

A few days ago I wandered sleepily into a real-life friend’s Facebook rant, wherein it was being asserted that local Democrats now are obliged to rally around Gahan and bolster our dear leader, assisting him in selflessly playing the part of flawless standard bearer.

I was reminded of statements read over the loudspeakers at mandatory public assembles, various loving paeans to Leonid Brezhnev, Benito Mussolini or Alfredo Stroessner: “Loyal drones, we must come together and vote straight Democratic Party tickets in the 2019 general election, because while it’s true that straight party tickets are pure and unmitigated evil, this isn’t the case when Democrats do it.”

In retrospect, a meme posted a few days earlier by this very same friend should have served as ample warning.

Gads! Seems the wayback machine had transported me all the way back to 1861. The Alamo or Fort Sumter; same difference.

With this rant kicking around in my cranium, I paused to brush my teeth and prepare an espresso, then got down to the task of a brief and gentle rebuttal, which I imagined would segue into a discussion.

The first problem is that simultaneously condemning and advocating straight ticket voting simply isn’t rational. It it’s bad, then it’s bad for both parties, not just one of them.

Furthermore, there is no such thing as straight ticket voting in a primary election, which will occur in May. David White is opposing Gahan for the nomination, and consequently, it is premature to jump to November when the next chronological step comes in May.

And, if White beats Gahan, wouldn’t Democrats just as readily rally around him?

Finally, seeing as my friend and I have spoken often about the importance of local elections as indicative of non-partisan grassroots issues, demanding competent individuals irrespective of party affiliations, I was compelled to make a more personal point.

Namely, hadn’t we both competed for local office as independents (one time each), and hadn’t we done so for the same reason, namely, our complete unalloyed disgust at the unctuous duplicity of Adam Dickey as Floyd County Democratic party chairman?

My friend is a lifelong Democrat, albeit probably perched on the conservative Donnelly wing, but there actually had been a time when he caught a fleeting glimpse of Dickey’s malice-littered reign of error, and the curious fact of him achieving more gains on behalf of Republicans than Democrats.

Consequently I replied to my friend’s Facebook rant with what I naively viewed as a conversation starter, only to be “unfriended” within minutes. I waited a few hours, logged into a seldom-used former work account, and confirmed it. He had deleted the original post, and then cancelled me.

It’s sad, although as with any manifestation of increasingly unsocial media, it would be a mistake to draw too many conclusions from this single incident. People lose their minds over politics on a daily basis, and maybe he was having a bad day. Probably once each week for the past 35 years I’ve reacted to an event by muttering to myself, “so much for logic,” and this summarizes it for me.

However, it surely suggests the outline of what we’ll see in next year’s general election, as municipal Democrats are urged to combat unholy Republican non-persons who unthinkingly vote straight ticket by morphing into their own android army and unthinkingly voting … that’s right, straight ticket Democratic.

In terms of making New Albany a better place for people who live here, as opposed to special interests located elsewhere, I find this attitude singularly unhelpful, particularly since my friend lives out in the county.

Regular readers already know I’m supporting White in the May primary. Those management-level Democrats currently benefiting from Gahan’s greedy patronage machine will insist that their exalted poo-bah alone is capable of staving off electoral disaster, but of course this is hokum.

For them, disaster is the prospect of losing their cozy billets, and small wonder they’re terrified. There aren’t many available flood control jobs for guys with college degrees in marketing.

Granted, White will be competing against two opponents at once: Gahan as well as Dickey’s upper echelon of management-level Democrats, augmented by the special interest/donor class eager to purchase their next contracts.

But the rank and file cannot vote a straight Gahan/Dickey ticket in the primary. Rather, they must make a choice in a contested race and darken a circle, either Gahan or White. As previously noted, if White wins, shouldn’t the party rally around HIM to stave off those dastardly Republicans?

Merely as an academic exercise, permit me to indulge a brief thought about kitchen cabinets (or, a circle of advisors), which occurred to me in the aftermath of this most recent intemperate Facebook unfriending.

For the sake of the argument, let’s pretend for a moment that next November, voters will be choosing between the Democratic incumbent Gahan and Republican nominee Mark Seabrook.

Who are the people we might expect to advise the next mayor?

In Seabrook’s case, they’d be capable, experienced and intellectually curious people like Ed Clere, Al Knable and Scott Stewart. Diversity would improve this assemblage; still, quite frankly, I can live with this idea.

In Gahan’s case, they’d be … well … before you say Warren, Shane and the power broker from the HVAC company, consider that the mayor’s kitchen cabinet already isn’t as you might think. Yes, surely the usual Democratic Party officials are occasionally consulted, along with the Monetizer Bunny’s current appointees-for-life.

However, given Gahan’s perpetual zeal to self-lubricate in the cash cave, with tens of thousands of dollars pouring in year-round from contractors, engineers, vendors and PACs headquartered elsewhere, haven’t we already arrived at a juncture where special interests are calling the shots?

After all, HWC Engineering already functions as deputy mayor. Can a street department worker so much as use the toilet without HWC having a say — or performing another study?

Only recently Gahan handed HWC money to act as de facto voyeurs; they’ll be watching to insure the companies already subsidized to build the Reisz Mahal perform their duties.

Who’s watching HWC?

There you have it. My friend believes local Democrats should rally around Gahan, but if greed, corruption and malevolence are the objectives, shouldn’t they be declaring for Donald Trump?

Recent columns:

November 29: ON THE AVENUES: “That’s why I voted no,” explains Scott Stewart, pausing to duck rocks feebly lobbed by Team Gahan’s propaganda pygmies.

November 22: ON THE AVENUES: A few thanks to give before we return to our regular anti-anchor resistance programming.

November 15: ON THE AVENUES: Notes on Solidarity after a visit to the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk.

November 1: ON THE AVENUES: Three books by Polish writers.