Cassandra had one of the most thankless jobs in history: The gods granted her the gift of prophecy, but cursed her with the inability to convince anyone of her truths. She saw the imminence of catastrophe, but her voice was impotent.
It is not lost on me that both of our names begin with C. I, too, have been trying to warn people about impending disaster in the city of Philadelphia, but no one listened. I suppose that's understandable because I can't even get my 8-year-old nephew to follow a simple command like, "Clean up after your bearded dragon," but I had thought that some evolved and educated citizens of this great city would consider my words.
Apparently, those who went to the polls Tuesday said, "Consider this, Christine" and flashed one of several possible anatomical parts in my direction.
On Tuesday night, Larry Krasner won the Democratic primary for district attorney, which, in a city where Democrats have a 7-1 registration edge, means that Krasner has won the race for D.A. Philadelphia really is nothing more than Moscow on the Schuylkill, a polis that pretends to have room and tolerance for divergent viewpoints and philosophies but exiles the dissenting conservatives to a political Siberia. And so it was on Tuesday.
Krasner, of the seven Democratic candidates for this office, was the scariest. He deliberately traveled with those who attack the police, who challenge the idea that drugs laws are necessary, who think that the death penalty should be reserved only for the innocent victims of crime and not the perpetrators, and who think the Constitution is, as a great judge once argued it was not, a suicide pact.
That, in fact, is what I think Philadelphians did on primary night: They killed the good, decent part of the civic society that believes in accountability for the guilty and justice for the aggrieved. Perhaps it's wrong to blame all of Philadelphia for what happened, because only a small percent actually ventured out to slit our collective throats with their votes, but the result is the same: We are doomed.
Some might say I am being overdramatic, and that is indeed a legitimate argument. I am not one to mince words when I feel threatened, and I do feel threatened as I type out my manifesto. I feel that I will no longer be able to walk the city streets with any sense or guarantee of security, because there will soon be a chief enforcer who has spent a lifetime protecting the sort of people who are gunning for me.
Krasner ran the type of ads that were a direct hit on those of us who believe that it is the job of the prosecutor, first and foremost, to keep people safe. It is not the job of the prosecutor to ease the burden of the defense attorney. It is not the job of the prosecutor to see police as enemies, victims as an annoyance, and criminals as "clients." I wailed about this, like Cassandra, begging the people of Philadelphia not to flock like Peoples Temple members to the polls and drink the nihilistic Kool-Aid of "we are depraved because we were deprived." My words fell on ears that were not so much deaf as immune to common sense. Well done, Philadelphians. Feel proud of yourselves.
Yes, I am bitter and I am angry. I cannot truly believe we have been conned (excuse the unavoidable pun) into believing that the criminal justice system can be a force for social engineering. Oh, no, was the rapist the product of a failing public school? Did the drug trafficker, that modern-day Jean Valjean, need to sell heroin to buy food for his ailing grandma? Was that fellow who pumped bullets into the head of a police officer in a parked car just annoyed because he couldn't find a job?
Empathy, not accountability, is the new word embroidered on the city flag.
A short while ago, I had a conversation with another district attorney, one who truly understands his role. Kevin Steele sits in an office in Montgomery County, but he is fully aware that what happens in Philadelphia does not stay in Philadelphia, but creeps across the border into his own jurisdiction. "Our job is really the only one in the system that is out for justice and for the truth," he told me.
I believe him. I also believe that Krasner's truth favors the criminal. I knew that from the beginning, and I wailed.
And no one listened.