George Graham

Powerful Saboteurs Target American Democracy

The news on national TV today is all about the elections for governor in Virginia and New Jersey, and the pundits are sifting through exit polls to figure out the meaning of it all. Is Chris Christie really a moderate? Is the Tea Party doomed? And on and on and on…

Nobody is talking about Gow Fields.

Of course, Fields is not a national figure. He is not even a state figure. He is the former mayor of a small Florida city, who lost his seat on Tuesday to a man named Howard Wiggs. I like Fields, and I believe he is an honest well-meaning man who did his best to serve his city.

But that wasn’t enough to keep his job after he incurred the wrath of a powerful national organization.

It wasn’t just Wiggs that Fields had to contend with. He was targeted by the National Rifle Association, too.

Imagine that! The almighty NRA took the trouble to zoom in on our little town of less than 100,000 people.

What, you might ask, could Fields have done to draw fire from the NRA? And I doubt you would consider his transgression a capital offense.

All Fields did was add his signature to a letter to the President from Michael Bloomberg and about 750 other mayors. The letter, prompted by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, called for such common-sense precautions as background checks on gun buyers and a ban on civilian ownership of military-style weapons.

Of course Fields was not the only mayor in the NRA’s sights. All across the country, mayors who favor gun control have been attacked.

To me, this is a grave threat to America’s political system. The NRA put their muscle behind Wiggs because of Fields’ position on gun control, not because of where the two candidates’ stand on local issues. Now, we in Lakeland are stuck with Wiggs and his platform – like it or not.

Surely, that’s not how democracy is supposed to work?

The NRA isn’t the only powerful organization that is subverting American democracy at the most local level. Powerful special-interest groups are targeting city and county governments – even school boards and judges – across America.

The billionaire Koch Brothers, for example, are funding candidates in local elections in their crusade to impose their radical right-wing views on the country.

You might recall that the Kochs are responsible for such state initiatives as stand-your-ground laws, union-busting legislation and dangerously extreme abortion bans. Now, their crusade is becoming even more granular.

With these mega-groups getting involved at every level, America’s democratic system is like a building invaded by termites.

Yet the TV talking heads don’t seem concerned. Yet.

The graphic above is from the local newspaper’s report on the NRA attack on Fields.

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About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for