"The twentieth century may yet be seen as that era when civilized man and underprivileged man were melted together into mass man..." Norman Mailer
For a good many Calumet region voters, the recent conviction of EC Mayor George Pabey could prove the final straw to continued identification with Lake County's Democratic Party. I say final straw because as we move deeper into this election cycle, the Party totters still from previous abuses of political office. For even by the negative norms in our county government, it was evident here that the corruption had quickly spread so as to devour at least two key agents of recent political and government reform.
One can only speculate, then, on the electoral psychology that Carol Ann Seaton must now try to introduce. In order to stage a strategically effective run at persuading
ed Democrats, both inside and outside of Gary, East Chicago and Hammond, she and the party leadership are out to convince voting party members that she embodies a reliable, realistic alternative to further domestic abuse of the county's body-politic. The problem is that politically and psychologically Carol Ann appears incapable of credibly representing the centrist-ideological values that are and have been the historic ground and truth of Lake County and Northwest Indiana's socio-political culture.
Due to her ethical indifference and the justifications (or lack thereof) advanced for the misdemeanor conduct she's been charged with, conduct that for a number of years perpetuated the violation and abuse of rules and licensing regulations governing Indiana motorists, the viability of her party leadership-endorsed candidacy festers as an ideological affront to good-faith liberalism.
This is a Midwestern liberalism, informed and symbolized by time-honored religious norms and ideals of probity and fair play. It is also that kind of middle-of-the-road conservatism that made locales such as Peoria, Illinois the exemplar of the once silent majority and enabled many political gurus to understand, "If it sells in Peoria, run it!" Seaton will not sell.
Given the immediate impact to the combined interests of property owners and citizens by challenges the new county assessor must both mount and defend against, her presence only compounds the Party's difficulties this election cycle. For the continued candidacy of Carol Ann Seaton to Lake County assessor necessarily leads to a political and ideological secession here - whether she wins or loses.
In contrast to the largely centrist-conservative ideology of many Democrats outside of Gary, Hammond & East Chicago, Carol Ann Seaton is the embodiment of Lake County's political indifference to the ethical canons of administrative integrity. As such, it is next to impossible to qualify her conduct, in any way, so as to render her fit for a presumption of validity in the administration of matters concerning tax assessments. There is simply no way voting centrist Democrats can psychologically or ethically identify with or endorse her past conduct, much less confer any authority upon her to authentically judge or assess their taxable interests in real/personal property. These people, to the extent they will bother coming out to vote, will vote Republican for Hank Adams or abstain from casting one, in this race, as a form of self-affirmation and protest.
Moreover, the candidacy of Carol Ann Seaton, rather than exemplifying the truth and aims of affirmative action, abused them. Simply because she's an African-American and seemingly possessed of a surplus in academic credentials to buttress her candidacy, does not mean she's automatically entitled to the Democratic Party's nearly inherent affirmative action legacy-benefit.
For implied in the demeanor of her attorney's, and her own speech acts, during a lengthy appearance on the radio recently, Seaton seemed very Toni Morrison-like, which is to say defiant. But unlike the artistry framing the critically-infused defiance characterizing the verbal enactments of Morrison in novels like Beloved
, or in critical literary essays such as those found in Playing in the Dark
, Seaton's was not a just defiance - it wasn't even justifiable indifference.
What it was is a socio-political form of moral hazard. Indeed, we heard lawyer Tony Walker contend on-air that her critics should instead press her for her philosophy of property taxation. Fair enough, but unfortunately the domain of local taxation philosophy has been preempted by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
And it's too bad that someone of the genius and artistry of Morrison hasn't weighed-in on her behalf, because it would prove intensely interesting to learn what someone of that stature and skill could summon in a bid to possibly justify or otherwise maximize Seaton's positions. For instance, as an aside, consider the concerns and issues imbedded in this minor textual sampling from Morrison's, Playing in the Dark:For some time now I have been thinking about the validity or vulnerability of a certain set of assumptions conventionally accepted among literary historians and critics and circulated as "knowledge."
This knowledge holds that traditional, canonical American literature is free of, uninformed, and unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of, first, Africans and then African-Americans in the United States. It assumes that this presence—which shaped the body politic, the Constitution, and the entire history of the culture—has had no significant place or consequence in the origin and development of that culture’s literature. Moreover, such knowledge assumes that the characteristics of our national literature emanate from a particular “Americanness” that is separate from and unaccountable to this presence.
The contemplation of this black presence is central to any understanding of our national literature and should not be permitted to hover at the margins of the literary imagination.
It is investigation into the ways in which a nonwhite, Africanlike (or Africanist) presence or persona was constructed in the United States, and the imaginative uses this fabricated presence served.
As a trope, little restraint has been attached to its uses. As a disabling virus within literary discourse, Africanism has become, in the Eurocentric tradition that American education favors, both a way of talking about and a way of policing matters of class, sexual license, and repression, formations and exercises of power, and meditations on ethics and accountability.
Still, as the Pabey/Camacho lawyers understood, the quality of any defense is only as good as the facts from which it's derived - and the facts of Seaton's conduct and attitude are so coarse they render politically dysfunctional any alignment with the endorsement of local Democratic Party leaders.
Consequently, should Seaton lose the election by a margin attributable to the quantity of crossover votes cast for the GOP or due to a low number of votes signifying abstention, Lake County's African-American coalition will openly dissolve any semblance of Party loyalty and with it that unity of socio-economic-political interests constitutive of a reliable electoral block. Absent such a block from north county, there is no way for any party to maintain a hegemonic dominance or control over the allocation of government assets and expenditure of its funds. Further, should Seaton lose, the ensuing political resentment would require at least a generation to abate.
However, if Seaton wins and it's solely attributable to the number of northern-tier-cities' voter turnout, her victory contradicts the values of those necessarily engaged in the anticipated crossover vote, and a good many centrist Democrats will abandon the Party possibly never to return. For if Seaton wins despite her electoral-reform negatives, it means that a significant number of Party faithful voted for the interests of preserving Party unity, and not for the best candidate - which is to say, against the norms and values of the electorate.
This would signify that a large portion of Democrats are in fact politically regressive. Consequently, these centrists are likely to become deeply estranged from the Party psychologically and especially from the political mindset of citizenry capable of voting for her. These now alienated Democrats, if they cannot find or create a third party, will from here on split their ticket.