Tag Archives: NJ

That damn Cognitive Dissonance

Our personal loyalty to our political leaders is so strong that we Americans are willing to change our previously held positions on public policy to reflect the positions of our leaders. On both sides of the aisle, voters are compelled to apply a sort of double standard to politicians… especially to those who hail from the other party.

That’s the message of reporter Shankar Vedantam. In his piece on NPR.org called “Partisan Psychology: Why Do People Choose Political Loyalties Over Facts,” he uses the work of Dartmouth poli-sci scholar Brendan Nyhan to show just how taken we are with our political leaders and their “constantly evolving” policy positions.

Take the nearly two-thirds of Republicans who tell pollsters that President Obama can do more about gas prices and two-thirds of Democrats who take the opposite position.

Economists generally side with the Left on this issue…and with the majority of Republicans who, six years ago, also said the price of gasoline was outside the realm of influence for the president…President Bush, that is.

Unfortunately, this sort of dynamic is the norm, rather than the exception. Citizens – especially those with strong political views – generally seem to defer to their political affiliations when they conflict with the facts.

In most situations, the partisan American voter is more than willing to don the hat of a hypocrite than apply uniform standards to ALL politicians.

This is not some grand development or show of solidarity. It’s proof of the polarization of our electorate to the point that we’re willing to compromise on policy for the good of that party.

The worst thing that this may signify is the great extent to which our political parties “got us by the balls,” as George Carlin used to say.

Unless our policy positions aren’t worth a damn – which isn’t good, either – being so wiling to reverse them in support of politicians is terrible.


Leave a comment

Filed under election, GOP, poverty, state politics, Super PACs, Trenton

Is there a Chief of Staff in the house?

TRENTON – So Trenton Mayor Tony Mack wants to bring on Paul Sigmund as Chief of Staff.  Remember this office?  It was Renee Haynes’ position in the Palmer administration…the one Mayor Tony Mack said he wasn’t going to fill.

Besides the obvious broken campaign promise, another point comes to mind.

It is based on information in today’s Times of Trenton story and regards Mr. Sigmund’s stated intention of signing an apartment lease to comply with the city residency ordinance.

If I remember correctly, the Chief of Staff takes over as mayor when Mack is out of town.  That point becomes a big, fat red flag if the office is filled with someone who is simply “signing a lease” to comply with residency.  And what’s worse, this is a red flag that adversaries will take advantage of, quite easily.

This is not a Doug Palmer situation, where there is a large, owner-occupied home that is being used, at least somewhat.

And no, I am not invoking the dreaded “L” word – lawsuit.  But a lack of legal papers doesn’t negate the fact that it will be quite easy for people to attack Mack and score quick political points.

They can attack Mack’s willingness to bend residency rules to take on a political scion with potential baggage, of all things.

Why would anyone care about this?  Sure – it’s fair to say that Mayor Mack has certainly been a deserving figure of criticism, with all of his gaffes.  But deep down, one should hope that he’ll get his act together and help Trenton.

Wouldn’t such a turnaround be easier without distractions, like bringing in people whose residency, name, and past will become political fodder?

It’s not even about residency…even if Sigmund accidentally made it so with his newspaper comments.  This guy has deep political roots, and they’re from Princeton, not Trenton, and that has already made many uneasy.  There is the whole “whoops, I was seriously injured when I rode on the outside of a NJ Transit train” incident, as well.

Instead of focusing on the residency technicality, I am wondering aloud…maybe, after all the failed nominees and officials, Mack should look for a strings- and backage-free candidate who comes from a place called Trenton.

Just a thought…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized