“Letter to Santa Christie” is A Dangerous Betrayal
To be honest, in this post-modern age of skepticism (some say cynicism) and low expectations (some would say disillusion), perhaps all that is no big surprise and disappointment to many.
But, virtually no one is focused on a more insidious form of corruption – intellectual corruption and political cowardice – and in such high minded places, like the Dodge Foundation and NJ advocacy groups.
My head is exploding right now after just reading a Dodge product, in the form of a not so cute “Dear Santa” letter to Governor-elect Christie.
I find it obnoxious, dangerously politically naive, intellectually corrupt, and ethically bankrupt.
Harsh words? Yes. True? You decide.
The “Dear Santa” letter seeks to find “common ground”. The letter purports to be the product of 15 housing, transportation, environmental, and planning groups. It is intended to convey a “policy vision” and provide the incoming Christie Administration with a “policy platform”.
A Dodge blog post distributed the letter. That post rather arrogantly emphasized the intellectually high minded tone of the letter. This was not done as some genteel gesture, but specifically to attack and dismiss what Dodge views as the unseemly advocacy of some. In Dodge-speak:
I hope, too, that you take note of the tone of the letter. It is not a demand that the incoming Governor forsake his agenda for some righteous social and environmental agenda; rather, it is an invitation for the Governor-elect to call upon these resource and planning experts to help him meet his agenda and New Jerseyâ€™s challenges
We wouldn’t want to make any “demands” of our elected officials – that’s too democratic. The rabble must know their place! And of course we must always defer to “experts”, never be”righteous” in our pursuits, and always use a civil tone in addressing our elite betters (and wash our face and shine our shoes).
In terms of the stale content and vague policy elements of the so called “policy platform letter to Governor-elect Christie” – which took only “months” (and how much Dodge money?) to develop -Â I feel compelled to note the following to inject just a little political reality into the lofty deliberations of the Dodge funded empire:
Affordable Housing – Governor Christie has pledged to “gut COAH” (while alleviating the constitutional municipal obligation and supporting low cost policies to transfer that obligation from the predominantly white suburbs to the predominantly black urban core). We all know that this advances the economic and politicalÂ interests of an exclusionary and racist elite suburban white constituency that has worked tirelessly for years to keep NJ’s poor and minority populations segregated in NJ’s urban ghetto’s. NJ is one of the most segregated states in the country – by income and race.
Transportation – Christie has sworn not to increase the gas tax -we all know that this is a reckless, ideologically driven, reflexive anti-tax policy which is virtually certain to bankrupt the NJ Transportation Trust Fund. How could you possibly look the other way on this issue?
Environment – Christie has promised to impose a moratorium on regulations, streamline bureaucracy, and eliminate red tape. We all know that those are code words for dismantling environmental programs under the pretext of promoting economic growth. His Transition Team is headed by an anti-environmental rural right wing zealot, (despite NJ’s glaring racial and income urban environmental health injustices); it is stacked with corporate types, and includes just one token “environmentalist” (who has a deep conflict of interest due to his organization’s political endorsement of Christie). The DEP Water Quality Management regulations cited in the letter are about to be killed legislatively. A extension of the Permit ExtensionÂ Act is pending as well.Â To ignore those realities, while sending the Governor vague “policy vision” platitudes amounts to providing political cover and collaboration in ongoing attacks on the environment.
Common Ground – Christie promised to cut the income tax of NJ’s wealthiest – at a revenue loss of $1 billion at a time when the State is faced with a $4 billion structural budget deficit. Major education, health care, and social programs are being slashed. There can be no common ground when the wealthy are granted tax cuts while all others suffer.
It must be nice to issue such silly and sanctimonious edicts from the lofty and well fed offices of Dodge Foundation Morristown Offices.
In this economic and political context, progressive communities need to seek common ground in order to circle the wagons for the oncoming onslaught of the Christie Administration.
Grovelling and providing political cover not only betrays the progressive mission, but is a noxious form of self denial that undermines the very movement solidarity it purports to advance.