Political retribution is a sign of immaturity
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 20:01
Emails were recently leaked accusing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge for political reasons. These emails suggest that the Governor halted lanes of the busiest bridge in the world for several hours just to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing him.
Although these are only accusations, the “Bridgegate” scandal has shed light on the issue of political retribution and its use in politics. Political retribution, the act of punishing one’s opponents or those a politician believes has “wronged” them, seems to be becoming more prevalent in today’s political sphere.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the only act of political retribution Christie has been accused of. According to the New York Times, Dawn Dimmer, Mayor of Hoboken, accused Christie of withholding Sandy storm funds if she did not support a real estate plan that was important to Christie. Again, if true, this goes to show retribution affects not just the desired politician, but also negatively effects larger communities and the amount of aid that community receives.
Whomever controls who receives aid and who doesn’t, especially after a storm as destructive as Hurricane Sandy, is powerful enough to manipulate those in need of the funds to back their political decisions. Whoever wants that money is forced into siding with the bills and campaigns of the politician that controls the aid in order to get their funding. The manipulative nature of retribution and the power it gives one politician is why Democrats are fuming over the “Bridgegate” incident and powered full force for an investigation on Christie and his entire staff.
It’s important to note that although retribution comes in all shapes and forms, politicians all act on them to make a point. Last June, Russia passed its anti-gay propaganda laws outraging international leaders and human right groups alike. In response to that law, Obama recently announced that he would not attend the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, a snub to Russian President Putin and the Russian government. To further make a statement, he included two openly gay athletes, ice hockey Olympian Caitlin Cahow and tennis player Billie Jean King in the official U.S. delegation.
This “in your face” revenge-like move was Obama’s way of declaring that discrimination against any group of people is unacceptable. In this scenario, Obama’s type of retribution didn’t cause harm to an entire community like Christie’s did, but rather helped a community and embraced tolerance and acceptance among the minority group.
One could argue that Obama’s form of retribution is less harmful and more effective than other uses of the method because Obama is trying to use it for the greater good. Not only is he sending a clear message that the U.S. will continue to embrace the LGBT community, but by sending openly gay delegates he is also in a sense punishing Putin hoping he will get the message to reconsider the propaganda laws.
Still, it’s impossible to ignore that the act of retribution just makes politics a huge game of manipulation. It urges others to be persuaded to agree with the person they’re afraid of, resulting in decision-making that they don’t necessarily believe in. Meanwhile, those who use retribution to their advantage have all the power to control people, money and other resource’s to get exactly what they want. Politicians who use this method to govern personally remind me of something out of “Mean Girls,” in which they sneakily wrong those who have wronged them. Often, forms of retribution are used to control party politics and keep certain members in line. If party members don’t vote with their party, whether they want to or not, they may be punished. They could lose any funding or support for their own bills and may even lose support from their party altogether.
In order to keep the party disciplined, politicians are more likely to vote with their party than against, even if what they’re voting for is something they don’t believe in. It appears that retribution is occurring more often and those who ferociously practice the game, affecting entire communities in the process, should find their way out of politics. There are other ways to prove points to politicians and send them a message without hurting innocent bystanders in the process. For someone who has taken an oath to serve their community to do something that immature makes me question whether they have the proper judgment and leadership skills to actually be involved in politics in the first place.