I had an uncle who was “connected” with a New York crime family, and at one time, my world was so desperate that I sought advice from him on how to handle a violent situation, not of my making. No sooner had I explained the threat to my life and how dire my problem was that he stopped me and said, “Louis, think carefully about what you might ask from the people I am associated with. In most situations, you pay a debt once; you repay a thousand times with these people.” So after reflecting on his words, I decided to solve my problem alone.
I thought little about it until many years later when I casually asked a favor from an acquaintance in politics. He gave me essentially the same advice as my uncle.
It took a while to register, but I began reflecting on the manifest similarities between political and criminal organizations. Most have defined territories, and membership is characterized by an allegiance to the organization’s goals – political or criminal. Moreover, the membership defers to a rather strict structural leadership and answers to a boss, chairman, capo, candidate, or office holder. Finally, loyalty is rewarded through favors or patronage, and disobedience is punished through loss of support, patronage, or other forms of punishment ( fill in the blanks for yourself).
You might say, OK, there is a qualified resemblance, but political organizations have lofty goals and objectives, not criminal enrichment. To which, as a proper New Yorker, I would add, “Hey! I have this bridge in Brooklyn, only one previous owner, lightly used, and has great views of downtown! Unfortunately, real estate is getting iffy. I can offer you a great deal.”
So please reflect on this…spooky isn’t it. Maybe there is less of a difference between some politicians and a mob capo. Or, in some cases, none.