We are living in a time where getting accurate information is a challenging task. All day we are bombarded with advertisements, social media, poster boards, phone notifications, and more, all seeking to persuade us with information. Processing it and sorting the true from the false is a task you can get easily lost in. So much of what we see is smoke and mirrors, is it really any wonder our political candidates are as well?
In times like these, we must elect people who are getting accurate information and also relaying accurate information to us, both about the world and themselves as leaders. Phil Murphy fails this test because a fundamental part of his campaign, that he is a political outsider, is a brazen lie. When a candidate lies about the very core of who they are in presenting themselves to us, everything they say is suspect. If our democracy is to flourish, these types of people must be disqualified from holding office.
Murphy leads with the claim that he is not a political insider on his biography and often makes the claim in town halls. Even just a slight scratching of the surface here lays bare how dishonest this claim is.
While Murphy has never held elected office, but he is well enmeshed in the highest rungs of the Democratic Party establishment. He became ambassador to Germany after donating $100,000 to Barak Obama’s inauguration committee. He also served as Finance Chair of the DNC, which is a position that exists to raise and spend money. He has had Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager as his overnight guest, he is on intimate emails with Democratic State Chairman John Curie dating as far back as 2015, and he is so well-connected, he was able to request President Obama’s presence at the launch of his non-profit. Someone so close to the highest rungs of political power in the country trying to sell himself as a political outsider is, quite frankly, offensive to our intelligence.
Phil Murphy’s entire political career is built upon raising money and donating money. While that’s not in and of itself a bad thing, to me, it’s very troubling given the overall issues of inequality in our economy and the fact that that inequality has created a severe power imbalance in our democratic institutions between the very wealthy and everyone else. In short, the very wealthy are able to exert a disproportionate impact on our government, which is not very democratic.
The veneer of Phil Murphy’s campaign has been carefully constructed to hide the fact that he bought the Democratic Party machine and, thereby, hopes to buy the governorship.
The core of the machine is party bosses who control local turfs with patronage jobs, contract steering, and shady civic associations funded by special interests. Phil Murphy bought this part of the machine by donating more than $1 million to local Democratic Party bosses. In exchange he has secured the endorsement of every county chairperson in the state, all unelected party bosses, both Senators, and all visible members of the state democratic committee. That is the core of the Democratic machine.
Once the bosses fall, the leaders of special interest groups scramble to get behind the selected candidate for fear of not having a seat at the table if they don’t fall in line early enough. These are primarily unions and Democratic-leaning PACS. I want to be clear, that I’m not criticizing these groups for getting behind Phil Murphy, because I know the people leading them are good people who want the best for their fellow citizens, the environment, and progressive causes. But they do become part of the machine, especially when a candidate has spent more than $18 million to make his nomination inevitable.
Finally, the actual product of the Democratic machine are the unwitting participants who owe the party bosses for their jobs or trust the local Democratic leaders and the leaders of the special interest organizations in their endorsement of the machine-backed candidate. They make the assumption that because that candidate is being backed by a group they trust, that that person is the best candidate for them.
The usual way to turn the machine on is to insert money….which Phil Murphy has done in spades. And this year, the entire Democratic machine has been turned on.
Phil Murphy has been fundamentally dishonest about who he is and the fact that he has purchased the Democratic machine. He is, quite clearly, not a political outsider as he claims. His mutual endorsements of all of New Jersey’s most notorious political bosses, including Steven Sweeney, Brian Stack, Lou Stellato, Joe DiVenczo, Vinny Prieto, and more are premised entirely upon his explicit purchase of “insider status.” He is telling them he is with them, and he is telling us he is not. Both of these things cannot be true. Murphy is the very definition of inside, and he has paid massive amounts of money to be there.
Not only has Phil Murphy been dishonest about his purchase of the Democratic machine to advance to power, his ostentatious spending of his wealth has made it impossible to know what kind of person he actually is and what kind of governor he would be. His platform and positions have been carefully curated and distributed by a veteran staff of political insiders and consultants, many of whom cut their teeth with the last mega-millionaire to buy the NJ Democratic Party- Jon Corzine. The $18 million he has expended so far has allowed him to manufacture a pristine image, but it is impossible for us to know his actual positions. How can you trust such a carefully constructed illusion? How can you trust someone whose fundamental image as a political outsider is a lie?
I don’t know who Phil Murphy is, and neither do you. He’s poured more money that most of us will make in our lifetimes into crafting an image of himself and selling us on it every chance he gets. Even if he were all the things he claims to be, and even if everything I’m were a wild exaggeration, I fundamentally object to Phil Murphy becoming the governor in this manner. It is undemocratic. I don’t want a benign ruler selected by the party bosses and Democratic machine. I want a robust, competitive election where voices of all candidates are elevated, not drowned out by one candidates’ extreme wealth. I want a healthy democracy. Phil Murphy’s elevation to the governorship would not be a cure to our sick democracy, it would be a further symptom of an unhealthy democracy. We, the people, are the cure.