This memorial day my wife is doing a little local political organizing. We've invited over a few families that we've met in our town who have political convictions similar to ours, in the hope that if we’re all on the same page, we might be able to have a little more influence over the local political issues. We’re not trying to save the Republican Party; that’s been a lost cause in New Jersey for decades. But hopefully we can do a few smaller things.
The State officials from our district, state Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon are both the kind of Republicans that most conservatives would be embarrassed about. In my experience they are thoroughly elitist, and firmly in favor of the government making as many decisions for the citizenry as possible. To my eyes they are really just Democrats with an R next to their name. I’m giving freshman assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande a pass because I liked her when I met her, and I think she should get the chance to do something that offends me before I start complaining about her. But the other two are hardly Ron Paul fans, so my wife figured that we should probably start our political associations at a somewhat lower level that the republican party.
We live in one of New Jersey’s most conservative towns, about 20 drive minutes from the beach, and 45 minutes south of New York City. Demographically the bulk of the town is either Jewish with strong ties to Israel, Italian with a profound commitment to family, or one of the Asian sub-groups who because of their above average intelligence and education, all tend to vote Republican. Indians, Koreans, Chinese, and a few others dominate. In truth, it has about the same ethnic makeup as any Wall Street trading floor, and that’s probably not an accident.
Still, although Republicans occasionally win elections here, it isn’t because the right is strong politically, but because in New Jersey, the political left is so hyperbolically frivolous and childish. It’s their weakness on issues that settles things and the Republicans have been winning by default for years. The local Democratic Party has a long history of putting up spoiled rich kids who think they’re smarter than everyone else. And people like that, who think things like Animal Rights and Trans-Fats bans are a profoundly important issues, just don’t win over blue dog Democrats.
And don’t think for a minute the irony of seeing the national election turn out just like our little town in New Jersey is wasted on us.
Anyway, the truth is, we’re thoroughly surrounded here. Our town is probably about 50% Republican, but in New Jersey that means that they’re no more “conservative” than… Well no more conservative than your average Republican Congressman in Washington. They are perfectly content to stand by and “not make waves” because they are afraid that the gang of liberals who drive the political discussion around here will turn into an angry mob the minute their base assumptions are challenged.
And to be perfectly honest, they may have a point. My wife needed a police escort to her car after the school board meeting where she spoke in favor of subcontract the janitors for a fraction of the price they would have paid for fully unionized employees. The board rationally approved the measure and saved the town a couple of million bucks a year, but my wife was the only person to speak in its favor. That was partially because she’s so fantastically brave, but also because the other people who agree with us were simply intimidated by the size of the opposition.
Since self reliance is a basic part of our character, conservatives tend to keep to themselves. Small L libertarians tend to be even more independent as matter of principle. So when it comes time for political discourse, there are huge, empty headed, self congratulatory mobs on the liberal side, and a bunch of people who believe they are all by themselves (although they actually aren’t) on the other. This has increasingly been the political dynamic, so my wife thought it might be a good idea to do a little networking.
Nationally the Republicans are a real let down this year. The political discussion has shifted left and the few conservatives out there feel they have been abandoned by their party and are all alone in the wilderness. Welcome to our world. So my wife and I are going to circle our little wagon here in the liberal wilderness of New Jersey, pass out some ammunition, and try to be ready for what comes. Surviving a McCain administration will be tough and an Obama administration may well be impossible. But we figure have a slightly better shot if we pull together.
All this conjures images of an essay of mine which I think was the most fun to write, so I’ll leave you with that thought as I wish you and yours well this Memorial Day. For your reading pleasure here is: New Jersey's Image Problem or Mad Max 7: Beyond the Pulaski Skyway.