In my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, there was always a guy who knew a guy who was selling watches or cameras or suits – whatever happened to fall off a truck. The cops from the 68th Precinct would pinch the guy. Given that he was caught with the swag, the boys in blue hauled him off. Simple. You get caught with the swag, you go.
Here in Steuben County, Republican campaign signs have been disappearing for ten years. Fed up with the situation, the Tom Reed campaign put a tracking device on one, and Reed’s campaign manager, Nick Weinstein, followed the tracker to the home of a local activist, retired reverend Gary “Lightfingers” McCaslin, who was subsequently charged with petit larceny.
The whole dustup is a lesson in progressive political thought and tactics.
First, progressives disregard the idea that someone else’s private property is their own. They’re always telling us what to do with our money, our labor, our land, you name it, so why not campaign signs? Coercion, regulations, prosecutions and intimidation through pubic shaming are all tools of the progressive left.
Second, they never admit they’re wrong. The attorney for Lightfingers blamed “the inappropriate political climate” for the alleged theft, which is amusing since most of the hysteria these days comes from the left. Progressives never accept responsibility for their numerous screw-ups; it’s always someone else’s fault.
Third, when the owner of the lifted property complains, progressives blame the victim. The name-calling begins – petty, paranoid, stupid – in an effort to cast the victims as evildoers. By implication, of course, progressives are good guys and innocent victims themselves.
Fourth, they say they did it for the community, the common good. Lightfingers’ attorney told us that he was just trying to clean up – and isn’t it just like a conservative like Reed to litter? To save the environment, Lightfingers was gathering campaign signs, even if they didn’t belong to him. This is the technique of claiming the moral high ground. Not only are progressives good people, they’re better than you.
The method is always the same, no matter the issue. You could substitute tax cuts, health care or natural gas development for campaign signs, and the progression (pun intended) would be exactly the same.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.