Patronage, Infiltration, and Sabotage

Do most elected politicians infiltrate and sabotage their allies?

One welcomes new people, but not really. She categorically demeans volunteers, sometimes her staff, and some other people.

But she wants some of them to seek her favor through patronage. To her, someone who doesn’t want patronage has something wrong with them. Then, she doesn’t want them around, and she’ll look for someone else who’ll take their place.

She plays patronage to get them a job where she has a say behind the scenes in the employer’s budget. She’ll have leverage over both the employer and the employee without having her fingerprints on her role.

Once the employee is working under her patronage, she wants something in return.

She wants them to be involved in civic society. Specifically, she wants them to enter an institution that endorses candidates, to be helpful to that institution and kept on board, and to gain access to levers of political power within that institution. But no one should say so, because then they couldn’t achieve that access.

They are secretly infiltrators. When they move those levers of power contrary to the institution’s desires but in favor of this politician’s views, they are secretly saboteurs.

She depends on that. She is sometimes a candidate, but every year she supports other candidates, too. She is their surrogate. She seeks endorsements for candidates she supports. She goes to those institutions and asks them to endorse candidates she supports.

She depends on her patronage-supported saboteurs to help her secure the endorsements she wants.

The people I think of as saboteurs on her behalf likely had some areas of agreement with the institutions they were sabotaging. Notwithstanding being in agreement, they were sabotaging on behalf of a politician who also agreed in part but who had differences and used underhanded methods to tilt decision-making toward her choices, being outside and yet getting rid of insiders who were in her way.

I had contact with her. I volunteered somewhere relevant to her work, and I did it with her. She eventually brought up patronage as if I should already be seeking it. I smiled and perhaps laughed, but, to me, cashing in on my volunteerism with the same people I volunteered with was against my ethics. I’d be reneging on my offer, after the fact. So, of course, I never pursued patronage. But we never discussed ethics. Almost no one discussed personal ethics where I was around. And she likely saw me as not being smart enough to take an obvious opportunity for myself, and then soured on me. I’m in a room of people who endorse candidates, but I’m not part of that group of people, and everyone knows that. But she was pitching for their decision, saw me enter the room, and asked me a question to which the answer was supposed to be support for the candidate for whom she was a surrogate. I didn’t say a word. I turned around and walked out. She was silently furious. One of her followers asked me that night if I know her last name, and, in the context, that’s a peculiar question. I did know it and said it. The politician trashed me to at least two people we both knew. They did not tell me details of what she said, but I’m sure she did not say what really happened. She would have looked bad. Instead, she made up some other story. I could not have found out her content and I could not refute. Their relationships with her were deeper than theirs with me, so I wouldn’t have been believed and my future volunteerism was constrained.

She got her revenge. Having failed in a higher purpose, my endorsement of her choice, she achieved her narrower purpose, weakening my role where it might matter to her in the future.

Do I know all of this as factually in the public record? No. I know some of it, but not all of it.

Do other politicians do something similar? I wish I knew. But I saw that many limited volunteerism but embraced patronage. So, maybe many politicians do the same, more or less. It’s a guess.

Can patronage be reduced? It should be. The problem is almost invisible and the solution is probably difficult, so it won’t be reduced without a predicate crisis of some kind. That won’t likely be anytime soon.