THE DEMOCRATS’ OBSESSION WITH SOCIAL ISSUES

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If you want to know why Barbara Buono is 20 points behind Governor Chris Christie take a look at what she’s been talking about since winning her primary.  A word check of more than 130 print and digital publications links “Barbara Buono” with phrases like “same-sex” (247), “gay” (311), “marriage” (368), “sexual” (155), “sex” (318), and “abortion” (107).

While polling shows the economy and property taxes to be utmost in voters’ minds, they don’t appear to be on candidate Buono’s mind.  The same publications link “Barbara Buono” to these phrases, but generally less often:  “property tax” (253), “tax cut” (122), “unemployment” (334), “job creation” (51), “foreclosure” (53), “homeless” (29), “reform” (178), and “ethics” (48).

The problem with Barbara Buono is that she is taking her campaign advice from Senate President Steve Sweeney.  It was Sweeney who set the tone of the session last year, making same-sex marriage his party’s “number one priority”.

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Sweeney did this in the face of brutal and continuing economic troubles – with New Jersey’s unemployment rate at 9.2 percent and 60,000 New Jersey workers set to lose their unemployment benefits.  He did it with New Jersey’s foreclosure rate at 8.2% – second only to Florida and with building/construction sector unemployment at 14.7 percent.

Sweeney showed a stunningly callous disregard for the working people of New Jersey and advised Buono to do the same.  The reason he gave was that making same-sex marriage the state’s top priority would be good for Democrat Party fundraising.  Remember what Sweeney told the editorial board of the Bergen County Record:

Sweeney suggested the Buono campaign refrain from personal attacks on Christie and instead focus on social issues – such as Christie’s opposition to gay marriage – that he said would have traction among New Jerseyans. (Record, 05/10/13)

Stupid Barbara Buono took Sweeney’s advice.  The following month Buono echoed Sweeney by making same-sex marriage her top priority:  “The first bill that I sign.”

State Sen. Barbara Buono of Middlesex County, Christie’s Democratic opponent in November’s gubernatorial election, staked out a strong position in support of gay marriage.

“When I’m governor, that will be the first bill that I sign,” Buono said after an event in Newark. (Record, 06/26/13)

Sweeney and Buono have continued to disregard the plight of working people – even after a report earlier this month showed poverty in New Jersey is at a 52 year high.  That’s one out of every four New Jersey residents in poverty – more than two million people.  And if you think it is just the big urban centers suffering from poverty, think again.  Look at the poverty level in the counties that make up Steve Sweeney’s own district:

  • 37 percent of the people in Cumberland County live in poverty, the second highest in the state.
  • In Salem County, 30.8 percent of its people live in poverty.
  • Even in Gloucester County, Sweeney’s home, the rate is – at 18.5 percent – above the national poverty rate of 15 percent.

A record high of more than 630,000 children — 31.2 percent — live in poverty in New Jersey.  32.8 percent of the state’s 18 to 24 year olds now live in poverty.  Why is attention being taken away from them and the focus placed on social issues?  Why is same-sex marriage the “top priority” for Steve Sweeney and Barbara Buono?

That’s easy to answer – it is about money.

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After Steve Sweeney derailed the 2010 Senate vote on same-sex marriage, Garden State Equality’s Steve Goldstein publicly threatened the Democrat Party:

New Jersey’s most influential gay civil-rights group pledged Friday to withhold financial support from Democratic lawmakers who did not vote for the same-sex marriage bill.

The lack of campaign contributions will cost future candidates hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Steven Goldstein of Teaneck, founder and director of Garden State Equality.

“The gay ATM is done,” Goldstein said. “In a bigger sense, the progressive [issues] ATM is done.” (Record, 01/08/10)

A month later, they made it official:

 Smarting over the state Senate’s refusal to pass marriage equality and disillusioned at the moment with the Democratic Party majority, Garden State Equality’s 85-member Board of Directors unanimously decided against giving financial contributions to political parties and their affiliated committees.  (PolitickerNJ.com, 02/08/10)

Senate President Steve Sweeney got the message, flipped his vote on same-sex marriage, ignored the cries of the working poor, the unemployed, the homeless and about to be homeless, and held a press conference to announce that same-sex marriage was his “number one priority”.  Senator Buono followed suit and promptly put her campaign into a power dive.

But it is working out O.K. for Sweeney.  He was just out on the West Coast, in California, collecting a quarter million dollars in campaign cash.  So all must be forgiven and Sweeney is pocketing trouser-fills of cash.  Money and politics.  Makes you want to vomit, doesn’t it?

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