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Letter: Lavine Responding To Mike Barry

With so many competing voices on television, radio, blogs and social media, we can sometimes miss out on certain forthright messages that deserve special attention. Mike Barry’s Eye on the Island column in the March 10 edition, however, merits extraordinary recognition.

Entitled “Reform and the GOP,” the author’s premise is that New York’s Republicans can prove that they are not enemies of reform and that they can win the debate over their opposition to both public financing of elections and the fair and nonpartisan drawing of election districts. While former Mayor Ed Koch is incensed that every single Republican State Senator has rejected the solemn oaths they ceremoniously took to reform the political system, Mr. Barry reasons that the Republicans can save the day if Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos publicly confesses that signing the reform pledge was simply a desperate mistake, made in a moment of weakness just before the November election.

According to the column, Senator Skelos should confess to lying to the voters by pretending to seem like a reformer so his party could regain power. The author seems to believe that this confession will somehow cast the Senate Republicans as true reformers. He goes on to argue that the current campaign finance and redistricting systems are favorable because they help the Republicans. The column is noteworthy in its simplicity and utterly remarkable in its candor.

We all know that self-serving hypocrisy is a feature that makes us cynical about politicians. We know, as well, that hypocrisy is the core value of every corrupt public and private figure. To be sure, the Republicans did win the Senate back, but what is the price of the glory of a victory secured by lying to the people of New York State?

Apparently, there is nothing wrong with lying to our citizens so long as you confess to being a liar once you get caught.

While setting the bar so low will probably not help the Republican Party, it will certainly do grave damage to our civil society.

Charles Lavine,
Member of New York State Assembly