Most of us, particularly those of us in the black community, have heard this truism all of our adult lives, and for good reason. Sometimes we can be tempted to break weak by the dangling of money in our faces, causing us to fail to accurately assess the negative consequences of selling out.
While we might think that all we’re selling is our vote or support, in fact, we might be selling our soul … or at least that’s what the purchaser is trying to buy. They might be trying to own you.
Take, for example, “Toxic Tony” George. Yes, he is indeed wealthy (in a relative sense of the word), but there’s another saying that Clevelanders might be wise to heed: “If you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas.”
The reason I call Tony George “Toxic” is that this Trump-supporting resident of Westlake has for years been busier than a rabid, demented dog trying to control the politics of the City of Cleveland. Why? Because he knows that if he tries to pull this kind of shit out where he lives some of the folks out there with “real” money will have him wearing his ass for a hat. To most of them, he’s nothing but a self-deluded joke.
For years “Toxic Tony” has wanted to have his money provide him with access to power in Cleveland; he ostentatiously backs candidates for office because he wants to be the power behind the throne. He wants to pull their strings. If he ever has his own way he might have elected officials doing all kinds of shady shit, and when that same shit hit the fan, he’d do a tRump move and act like he doesn’t know them as they do the perp walk off to federal prison.
That’s the kind of dude I seriously suspect this user is. Actually, some politicians that lack my street smarts should be thanking me for pulling their coats and keeping them out of potential trouble. They can’t say they were never warned, can they?
Now “Toxic Tony” is behind the effort to reduce the size of Cleveland City Council, simply because he didn’t get his way on a contract that he was acting as a consultant on. Readers can go back and review my previous columns, “Who Likes Politicians?,” and “Preventing a Theft,” for the foul details of his dirty dealings.
Cleveland really is a very small town, and, as Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, “… in the end truth will out.”For the welfare of the citizens of Cleveland, someone has to cut this snake’s head off; otherwise, our politics will become tainted and controlled by the highest bidder; the one with the biggest purse, not the citizenry. And no matter how bad you think things are now in Cleveland, if that happens they will get appreciably worse — much worse.
So it’s going to come down to the power of my pen versus the power of his purse. But, similar to playing poker, I can’t “over-sport” my hand — think that it’s stronger than it really is. Indeed, I try to never overestimate the influence of my writings … but then, neither do I underestimate my work either.
For instance, in no way can I use my pen to “make” someone mayor — no one really should have that much power. But here’s what I think I might be able to do: Point out to voters those politicians that are in “Toxic Tony’s” pocket and try to make sure they don’t become mayor.
Of course, I could be entirely wrong; maybe I don’t have enough readers, or don’t make enough sense, or perhaps I’m not trusted enough to have real influence. Maybe I’m just fooling myself. Perhaps it’s time for me to find out.
But the thing potential candidates have to ask themselves is this: Do they really want to run the risk of finding out the hard way if I have any clout — after they lose their next election? I’ve got a long memory, and yes, I do hold grudges.