“Our ideal of America is a nation in which justice is done; and therefore the continued existence of injustice, of unnecessary inexcusable poverty in this most favored of nations—this knowledge erodes our ideal of America, our basic sense of who and what we are. It is, in the deepest sense of the word, demoralizing—to all of us.” Robert F. Kennedy

Republicans in Congress are, most of them, skilled not in statecraft, or the subtleties of governing a pluralistic country (Republicans on the whole care nothing about pluralism). They are skilled only in aiding the rich in becoming richer. That is their raison d’etre. They are in office for no other reason than to serve their financial puppet masters—for which loyal service they can expect to receive due compensation, and not a few perquisites distributed along the way.

Chris Christie is a perfect illustration of this pragmatic service to his real, behind the stage political “handlers”. His office received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal emergency (FEMA) funds to help those hurt by the unprecedented, gigantic storm, Sandy. But first, Christie tells a few of his would-be recipients, “they must allow the Rockefeller Group [inter alia, a real estate investment corporation] into their city to develop various properties—and then, but only then, will their city receive their much-needed, and long-awaited for, Sandy funds. Don’t allow Rockefeller in and you won’t get your funds.” (This is a paraphrase of what Christie [and his office] is reputed to have said.)

Here is intimidation at its cruelest: people who are still struggling to get their lives back on track after Hurricane Sandy have their funds withheld in—let us call it like it is—a blackmail scheme, while Christie and his henchmen obsequiously court the interests of the super-rich. But the urgent needs of the poor, the suffering, and the displaced victims of hurricane Sandy—these take a back seat to the unfeeling rich.

Or failing verbal intimidation—this never works on high-minded people like the Hoboken mayor who resisted Christie’s threats—you can always engage in “dirty tricks,” in this case political revenge, a time-honored Republican habit of subverting the rule of law, here by illegally closing lanes that feed onto the George Washington Bridge, thereby causing a monumental tie-up for the town of the N.J. mayor who refused to support Christie for governor (and with good reason we now see!) This high-minded act of political statesmanship by Christie and his staff not only

caused a traffic fiasco of gargantuan proportions, adversely affecting hundreds of thousands of people, it also put at risk the lives of sick citizens who might have needed to go to the hospital.

But isn’t this just the sort of thing the Mafia routinely does? Or what one would expect of (neo-Czar) Putin and his FSB henchmen? But, no, these are not totalitarian Russians, they’re home-grown right-wing Republicans, for whom “legality” is a decidedly relative matter: It’s legal if the Republicans themselves distort, or even trample upon, the Constitution, but illegal if a Democrat should try, out of Christian compassion, to assist the elderly, the young, the sick, the impoverished, the helpless and the hopeless. Then it’s called red herring names like “Big Government” or “Big Brother” or “socialism.” That 50% of Americans fall for this political charade is even more shocking and disturbing.

Democracy in America is emphatically not working. It’s been co-opted by the super-rich, like the Rockefeller Group, so that they can become even richer (and they do). Chris Christie shows us all very clearly that, after all is said and done, unlike in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the Bailey Savings and Loan does indeed finally lose out to Potter, and with it goes the end of the Middle-Class. (Only in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life does America still “have” a middle class.)

So, welcome to Pottersville, the ghetto formed by rapacious, uncaring, and unchristian rich Republicans, for the poor, the sick, and the suffering—that being out of sight they might also be out of mind.

Len Sive Jr