BLOG
Petty Vengeance
08 October, 2014
Chris Christie is governor of New Jersey, the US state just south west of New York City. He was reelected in 2014. Mark Sokolich is the mayor of Fort Lee, a small town just across the Hudson River. Between Fort Lee and Manhattan is the George Washington Bridge, the busiest bridge in the world. Mayor Lee didn't endorse Governor Christie for reelection in 2014 so Christie had his people close some entry ramps to the bridge for several days. It
caused a horrendous traffic jam for days, thousands of kids could't to school, ambulances were stuck and millions of tempers flared. Several weeks later it came out that Christie made this happen although at first he lied about it and tried to cover it up and then said it wasn't important but new evidence keeps showing up. And that gave an opportunity to people who he had done things like this to to over the years to come forward and say yes, this sounds like the kind of thing he would do. All this is important because Christie was a serious contender to be the Republican nominee for President in the 2016 election. Not any more. The public decided this little event illustrates his character and who wants to follow a leader who would do that kind of thing?

I think of Chris Christie when I look at leaders. A great leader needs to have a focus on big things, needs to have a vision that the public understands and and accepts and things move in the direction of that vision. A politician who spends her or his time on the small little pointless things has no time for a vision. Some politicians with no vision pretend they have one, but hide behind all the small things, they enjoy the details as a hiding place from the big picture. An important question when looking at a leader is what does she or he believe in? Where will they take us and our village, city, or country? Not what are they against, but what are they in favor of? Do they spend their time punishing all their perceived enemies or moving us forward? Now that we all know what Christie spends his time on, nobody believes he has any real vision. People who enjoy petty vengeance can't have a legitimate vision or the time to pursue it.

How acceptable is petty vengeance in Georgia? Is it accepted as simply the way the world works? If you do something I don't like, I will try to do some little unpleasant thing against you that is not too dangerous for me. Is that the norm? Are leaders or politicians held to a higher standard? Are they supposed to be better and do less of that than the general public or do we assume that in order to be involved in politics a person must be willing or even enthusiastic to engage in these tiny battles? Another way to look at this is to ask who wins. If there is a political battle between a politician who refuses to engage in petty vengeance against one who is constantly engaged in that, who will be the victor?

In some countries, and in some cultures there is no act that will finish a politician quicker than evidence of some form of petty vengeance like this. There it is viewed in the binary, there is a type of person that does things like this, we all know some, and there are people who couldn't ever do these things, everybody is of one or the other type, who simply don't see the world this way. So if a politician does this once the presumption is that they do this constantly, it is a part of their character and nobody wants them to have any power, or at least elected power. In other countries or cultures, petty vengeance is viewed as normal, part of how the world works, anybody who doesn't engage in it is at best ineffective, at worst naive and weak. There are no consequences for those who engage in it, or it may even be to their benefit if that is simply how the system works. And the system usually stays that way because anybody who does not participate in it becomes irrelevant. So for Georgia, which is it?

Print