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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans Day, Captain Gavin McCoy and the Perpetual Campaign

Buried in the Old Yard cemetery of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in Somerset County, New Jersey are 35 Revolutionary War veterans.  One of these is Captain Gavin McCoy of the First Somerset Militia Regiment.


The tombstone indicates he was born in 1737 and died 1800.  In a 1923 address on the local history of Plainfield, New Jersey, the speaker noted that "The records fairly bristle with the activities of Captain McCoy and your own Captain Laing, two most efficient officers whose memory should be cherished." From what I can determine, McCoy performed essential functions during the "Forage Wars" over resources in New Jersey, and his regiment also participated in the Battle of Springfield.

What strikes me, though, is that in the aftermath of yet another election (statewide in New Jersey as well as Virginia), the media is filled with assessing the "winners" and "losers," and engaging in non-stop gossip (we cannot really call it journalism or even news, let alone news analysis) about 2016.  Meanwhile, New Jersey remains 49th in the Tax Foundation's 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index.  It is 50th in the property tax ratings, i.e., the worst.  It is 48th in the individual tax ranking and 46th in sales tax.  Its unemployment rate of 8.5% exceeds the national average of 7.3%.  It remains the single most expensive jurisdiction for automobile insurance in the country.  The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 Infrastructure Report Card indicates that just under 10% New Jersey's 6,554 bridges are "considered structurally deficient" and 26% are "considered functionally obsolete."  Just about 2/3 of the state's "major roads are in poor or mediocre condition." 

But hey--what does governance matter? As long as X won her seat in the Senate or Y and Z won theirs in the Assembly, or the governor may or may not be a nominee for president, why focus on actual achievements? Why govern? Let the next campaign begin.

Stand at the grave of Captain McCoy, or any of the others like his up and down the East Coast, in these graveyards, and reflect on this Veterans Day the fruits of their sacrifice, and what we have become.  They fought for self-governance.  What we have ended up with is the perpetual campaign.

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