Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Back in January, I was somewhat surprised to see the gleeful lefty blogger reaction to a coup of sorts in the Tennessee House of Representatives: the GOP had won control of the chamber, by a very slim margin, for the first time in decades, and Republicans planned to choose a far-right Speaker, but Democrats managed to get a moderate Republican voted in as Speaker, thwarting the GOP leadership. I didn't find it a particularly story because here in New York State the Democrats had just won control of the state Senate for the first time in decades -- and a GOP coup involving turncoat Dems voting for a Republican Senate leader had just been thwarted, within days of the election, even before the seating of the new Senate.

And now Republicans in New York's Senate have had the coup they sought back in November.

Yeah, politics ain't beanbag and all that. And I know -- I was happy when Jim Jeffords flipped the U.S. Senate back in '01. But at least that was a personal renunciation of party by Jeffords. (The swing votes in the Tennessee and New York coups intend to stay in the parties they betrayed.) And it was a 50-50 Senate, Republican-controlled only because of the VP tiebreaker.

I look at what happening in New York now, and at Bush v. Gore and Franken v. Coleman, and I sense an increasing disrespect for normal democratic processes. And I strongly suspect that if we're going through an era in which elections are treated as post-modern texts with no fixed meanings, the GOP and the right are going to dominate the process of delegitimizing electoral results. I'm betting that, sometime in the next decade or so, they'll flip a house of Congress that's clearly majority Democrat, with the help of some right-wing Dems. The coup will be portrayed as a revolt against Evil Nancy Pelosi or Dingy Harry Reid or some future equivalent Fox News antichrist du jour. And the coup enablers won't even leave the party.


Central to the coup was frequent gubernatorial third-party candidate Tom Golisano, a registered Republican (and libertarian) billionaire who's not even a New York resident anymore:

One person backing the revolt to put Republicans back in charge was Tom Golisano, the Rochester businessman and founder of Responsible New York, a political action committee that gave thousands of dollars to Senate Democrats last year to help them take control of the Senate, but who has become increasingly critical of the party. Mr. Golisano recently announced that he was moving his legal residence to Florida out of anger about the budget deal crafted in April by Democratic leaders in Albany, which included an increase in taxes on high earners.

Yes -- that was a move Golisano told us all about in a New York Post op-ed last month:

Last week I spent 90 minutes doing a couple of simple things -- registering to vote, changing my driver's license, filling out a domicile certificate and signing a homestead certificate -- in Florida. Combined with spending 184 days a year outside New York, these simple procedures will save me over $5 million in New York taxes annually.

Boo hoo. Golisano tried to buy off the Democrats and then they had the audacity to make him subject to a tax biller that was higher by $5 million. Well, according to Forbes, Golisano's net worth dropped from $2 billion in 2007 to $1.7 billion in 2008 -- a $300 million decline -- while that great tax-cutter George W. Bush was in charge of the economy. I don't recall him writing any op-eds about that.

No comments: