Politics, at its base, is a game. It is a bit like choosing sides, when you are a kid, to hang with the cool kid or not. Even if you don’t necessarily like the cool kid or even if you don’t always agree with how the cool kid spends his time, there is a certain peer pressure to do what everyone else is doing. That’s just the way that it is. Forgetting for one second, the Presidential election, there are a host of other offices up for grabs and in their advertising, it seems as though, even if you are just a local in transit and you don’t know a whole heck of a lot about what this local politician stands for or what they have done over their career; you know who you should be voting for.
Peter Abbate. Of course. His face is up all over my Bay Ridge, Brooklyn neighborhood. His advertisements are posted outside of my local coffee shop, deli, dry cleaners, even on my own building. I totally trust my absent landlords and the other strangers who live in my building; so of course, it’s Peter Abbate.
However Mr. Abbate’s campaign has run me wrong with a postcard which just ended up in my mailbox with the previous tenants (“or current residents”) name on it. Ordinarily I would have just discarded it without a second thought. But this one came upstairs with some other bags and found its way onto my desk for the night where I up-folded it to remind myself to throw it out.
But then I got to looking at the postcard; what it actually said.
“Peter Abbate is Endorsed by the People Who Protect Us.”
The text goes on to list NYS Association of P.B.A.’s, Police Conference of NY, Law Enforcement Officers Union – Council 82, Detectives Endowment Association of the NYPD, NYC Police Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, NYS Parole Officers…18 in all, PD, FD, or EMT related jobs. 18.
But then, the kicker was the RED BOX below: “Join your friends and neighbors and vote on November 4th to Re-Elect Our Assemblyman PETER ABBATE (which might as well have said: DO NOT BREAK EXCEPT IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY)
Here’s the thing. I’ve been looking at these advertisements, I’ve been watching these election proceedings, I’m even, right now, reading this postcard. If this postcard were all that I had to go on, I would think that the only reason to vote for Peter Abbate would be because, if I didn’t, I’d be wearing The Scarlet Letter. No one would come if I dialed “911,” EMT would be apathetic in an emergency; fireman would shrug were my apartment burning. Of course that wouldn’t happen but there is another, even more frightening side to this story straight out of the life of Winston Smith and the collective nightmare of what 1984 might look like, which I’ll talk about in Part II.