Rancor between Republicans and Democrats is as old as the ages – an ideological split that has polarized our nation and gridlocked what remains of our system of governance – a selfish sociopolitical divide that would have both sides bring our great nation to its knees before ever considering compromise or collegiality.
Literally everything – including the coronavirus pandemic – has been politicized by these warring factions.
Even our once trusted media sources have joined the fight as cheap propaganda organs, losing any semblance of objectivity by choosing sides in the culture wars, further dividing us with sensationalism and hype, pitting neighbor against neighbor – “vaxxed vs. unvaxxed,” right vs. left, liberal vs. conservative, white vs. black, LGBTQ vs. straight – always laser focused on that which separates us.
It is no longer about public health – or even national unity in a crisis – it is about politics.
And it is increasingly personal.
Unfortunately, this scorched earth partisan hatred has permeated every stratum of politics.
Locally, the various Volusia County Republican and Democratic party affiliates, clubs, and committees have been horribly splintered – with various groups left bickering over fringe politics as the Old Fogeys of the Entrenched Establishment fight with young firebrands for influence and control – internecine rivalries exacerbated by party “rules” and edicts that appear good for some, but not for all.
It is just one reason I remain a heathen No Party Affiliate – choosing to trust my own jaded instincts and sources of information (namely my highly attuned six senses) over the fear mongering and puffery that now passes for “news” – or the ravings of some ideologue with a God complex.
Recently, Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post was taken into the maw of what passes for Florida’s ethics apparatus – a politically tainted shitshow that even those who work in it will tell you is a farce – when a local operative from Post’s own Republican party filed a petty, mean-spirited complaint that Ms. Post failed to list her mortgaged home as an “asset” and omitted her widely published stipend for elected service from a required financial disclosure form.
According to an explanation published by Ms. Post on social media, the complaint against her was brought by Phyllis Stauffenberg, a long-time mover-and-shaker in local Republican politics, who is rarely seen at public meetings without her sidekick – Barbara Bonarrigo – a darling of the Volusia County Republican hierarchy who received Ms. Stauffenberg’s personal endorsement during her run against Ms. Post for the District 4 seat last year:
“It is very evident the ridiculous complaints were filed with the state ethics committee by this member of the RECVC (Republican Executive Committee of Volusia County) for the group and their handlers to be able to claim that I was “investigated for ethics violations” by the state in an attempt to continue to perpetuate the false, ill reputation they have worked so hard to portray me as.”
Of course, Ms. Stauffenberg defended her actions in the grammatical nightmare below, claiming Ms. Post is suffering some delusional paranoia (as excerpted):
“Most assuredly, Heather Post, I am NEVER, and I mean “NEVER” Prompted by ANYONE. Certainly NOT the RECVC. After all, isn’t that the party by which you stand? You, my dear, are “barking” up the wrong tree. It is my habit to Critique candidates. It is what I do. If, in fact, there are discrepancies, I will, without doubt, pursue appropriate action. It matters NOT to me what platform or party candidates, or elected officials hold. I have, I fact, been in regular contact with the Ethics Commission.”
(Oddly, I have noticed that whenever anyone publicly challenges these partisan hacks – on either side of the aisle – or speaks out against the status quo, the immediate defense mechanism is to brand them a raving paranoiac in a weird form of political gaslighting.)
In my view, this was a classic example of the ethics process being weaponized – not to bring a scoundrel who uses their public office for personal gain to justice – but to smear a sitting politician and give a partisan candidate an advantage in a supposedly non-partisan election.
Look, its not like Councilwoman Post was hiding assets in some offshore account in the Seychelles, funneling ‘dark money’ to remunerate a “ghost” candidate, or paying off young “escorts” with no-show jobs, right?
She had a mix-up on a form – a scrivener’s error that she later corrected – but her oversight left an opening for a cheap shot, something you can set your watch by in Volusia County politics, and it appears Inspector Stauffenberg and, according to Ms. Post, the Republican Executive Committee of Volusia County, took full advantage of it.
But why would a staunch Republican like Ms. Stauffenberg put a sitting elected official from her own party through the mill over a trivial clerical mistake?
In my view, like Volusia County Council Chair Jeff Brower – Ms. Post is not who the gatekeepers in the local Republican power structure, and the uber-wealthy insiders they represent, wanted (or needed?) in office.
While their opponents – perennial politicians and malleable candidates who were hand-selected from the ranks of the faithful (regardless of whether they knew a damn thing about local issues) – were gifted glowing endorsements at elegant fundraisers hosted by “Rich & Powerful” benefactors and B-list politicians, and received lavish campaign contributions from those who control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide here on the Fun Coast – Post and Brower were left to founder – shunned like political lepers, while their good names were besmirched with virulent attack ads and lies on glossy mailers paid for by mysterious political action committees (including one chaired by Brower’s incumbent opponent).
Anyone remember Volusia Citizens for Good Governance?
Ethics? My ass.
Fortunately, the grassroots voters and taxpayers had a better idea.
We made our voice heard, loud-and-clear, at the ballot box last year – and announced to those entrenched politicians who have repeatedly told us to shut-up and sit-down that it was time for a change in the civic, social, and economic stagnation that has made Volusia County a cautionary tale throughout Central Florida and beyond.
Now, Chairman Brower and Councilwoman Post are paying a heavy price for their independence – all while those darlings of the status quo primp and preen for their stodgy Old Guard puppeteers who are desperate to hang onto what little they still control, regardless of the means or methods required.
Ethics? Yeah, right.