There must be a special blind spot that allows people to engage in precisely the same behavior that they (correctly) criticize in others.
In one particularly distasteful example, the Anti-Defamation League, an organization founded to counter religious prejudice, recently opposed locating a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero. Evidently, the ADL’s commitment to civil rights doesn’t extend to Muslims.
Closer to home, a number of local Democrats have savagely attacked three Democratic City-County Counselors for voting to sell the water company to Citizens Gas. They have been especially harsh in their criticisms of Jackie Nytes, one of the most thoughtful, productive and hardworking members of the Council.
These are members of the same party that has complained—justifiably—about the Party of No in Washington. Democrats criticize the GOP for its sustained and uniform opposition to anything the Obama Administration proposes; in just the past few weeks, Republicans have blocked votes on the DISCLOSE Act (increasing disclosure and reporting requirements in the wake of the Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to make direct campaign contributions), a bill to provide medical aid and compensation for 9-11 first responders, and a bill to expand credit to small businesses. The Party of No has also blocked votes on at least twenty judicial nominees who received bipartisan support in committee.
What is appalling about this behavior is its transparent motivation to deny the Administration any credit for getting anything done, even when the measures being proposed have previously been supported by Republicans.
Local Democrats have been among those who have strongly criticized this conduct, and it is ironic—to put it mildly—that they are now engaging in it by suggesting that a vote for a plan put forward by a Republican mayor is an act of disloyalty.
If I were on the Council, I don’t know how I would vote on the water company sale. I think the transfer itself makes sense; what I don’t like is that we are getting money to fix our decaying infrastructure by shifting the tax burden to ratepayers. We are pandering to the purveyors of the fiction that we can run a city on the cheap, and our cowardice will inevitably come back to bite us in the future. That said, the infrastructure needs are critical, and a direct tax increase is politically untenable.
Councilor Nytes has a well-deserved reputation for integrity and responsiveness to her constituents, and the accusations of betrayal by more partisan members of her party do not reflect poorly on her—such accusations diminish her critics, and reduce the effectiveness of their justifiable criticisms of the Party of No.
We elect people to the Council to make decisions on our behalf in the exercise of their best judgment, not to play politics. It is one thing to disagree with a colleague’s vote on the merits—that’s fair enough. It is another thing altogether to insist on lockstep partisan voting.
It’s wrong to be the Party of No in Washington—or in Indianapolis.