Monday, April 20, 2015

What is the phrase "representational government" SUPPOSED to mean?

(Transcribed by Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5)

Lately, I've been noticing more and more that those in the political field seem to lack any compunction when it comes to the issue of “representation” in the phrase “representational government.”

What is the responsibility of our elected officials? Where does one draw the line between presenting what one knows to be the will of the people over one’s personal agenda?

I choose to take the stark view: under the system we have in place in our state, we are told at the very beginning of the state Constitution that all political power is invested in the people.
Political Power 
All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.[1]
In my stilted view, there does not appear to be anything particularly ambiguous or nebulous about the phrase “all political power.”  Nor does the verbiage of "in the people" leave a lot to the imagination.

In a recent Supreme Court decision, Carcieri v, Salazar, (the decision that will likely cause the Cowlitz to lose their casino scam) the Court relied heavily on a standard referred to as “the plain meaning rule.” (In this case, the plain meaning of the word “now” in the phrase “now under federal jurisdiction.” Specifically, that the word “now,” meant in the year of the legislation as it passed at that time… Or, 1934.”)

Part of my arrival at the conclusions concerning responsibility of elected officials to their constituency is based upon the application of that "plain meaning" standard.

Frighteningly, more and more, we see those who, once having achieved elective office, subsequently put their judgments or their agenda ahead of that of their constituency.

Locally, democrat Steve Stuart has become the poster child for that variety of arrogance:

  I believe that election to an office does not  suddenly, magically, mean that the elected official is somehow relieved of their responsibility to those who elected them; to present their views, their desires, their needs, as a voice for those people.

 Far too often, we see those in elective office exhibiting “leadership,” as they vote not in lockstep with their constituents but instead, in opposition to their constituencies. I find that personally to be an affront to the entire nature of representative government.  The leftists infesting us are very fond of that characterization: when someone in elective office takes a leftist vote they know their constituents would hate...

... they call that "leadership."

It's not, of course: it's just the leftists supporting the betrayal of representative's constituency.

If that is how those elected are going to do business, then why should we even bother to have a legislature?

We’re told that by mere whim, the governor of this state can simply sign his name to a piece of paper and jack up the price of gasoline to the stratosphere. For a wide variety of reasons, I find this to be highly unlikely... Not the least of which is that since Washington became a State in 1889, no governor has dared do such a thing.

In taking it a step further, even if the governor had the ability to implement a massive tax/fee increase unilaterally, for a governor to do such a thing would merely be temporary, until such time as he… and most likely his political party… were thrown out of office by a statewide constituency furious at the effrontery and dictatorial nature of such an increase.

So on one hand, you have the political reasons that such an act is impossible combined with the legal reasons that such an act is impossible, yet Republicans in the Senate insist on using this as their excuse to explain why they are jamming a gas tax increase down our throats without allowing us a vote... that will be part and parcel of a $15 billion transportation package… Of which Clark County will receive around 1.3%... Roughly 50% of which will then be spent on a project we do not need and do not want; specifically what amounts to the replacement of the I-5/Mill Plain intersection… Heretofore a linchpin piece of the Columbia River Crossing.

Not only have those voting for this here locally sold us out… they've sold us out cheaply… for very little in return… A smattering of small, relatively unimportant projects that will accomplish next to nothing when it comes to the matter of increasing road miles to reflect an increasing population...  and now, even those projects are pulled by the House democrats for an additional boondoggle at 179th and I-5... when if any intersection needs work, it's the nightmare of SR500 and I-5 north bound that should get the attention.

But I'm still confused: how is it that a project the size of the one of the horrific waste of that proposed for Mill Plain and I5 go forward when we're assured that in the districts where the senators have voted "no" on the transportation package, they are going to lose their projects?

I have seen and read nothing to indicate that because Sen. Cleveland has voted "no" on the transportation package... that her district is in danger of losing this project… And in fact, the house added several million dollars more to the overall project cost.

Now the elected individual who's told me this would certainly not be misleading me… Would they?

Hundreds of millions of dollars of this package will be devoted to projects that have nothing to do with roads, nothing to do with moving traffic, nothing to do with transportation.

The skulduggery by those involved in this scam is difficult to overstate. In the GOP State Senate, it impacts at all levels. The corruption of the lieutenant governor, who illegally determined that a GOP Senate supermajority tax vote rule was "unconstitutional" at the time the gas tax increase was being voted on, only to subsequently overturned his own decision and suddenly conclude that the previously "unconstitutional rule" is now magically "constitutional" is obvious. Think in terms of a light switch being turned on and off.

To the best of my knowledge, no one is subsequently demanding that the gas tax increase be re-referred under this rule, although why they are not reconsidering it is a mystery to me… Except of course it is no mystery.… This is just an example of corruption, once again, ruling the day in Olympia.

It's not just here in Washington State; lately, I’m noticing various mentions of the concerns of the South Carolina Legislature who have run headlong into Governor Nikki Haley’s veto pen.
“We are seeing a concerning trend. The House passed themselves a pay raise, we've vetoed. Then they tried to run up our debt by half 1 billion, we killed it. Yesterday they raise taxes for a roads plan, without a larger tax decrease, any year we have over 400 million in additional revenues. I will veto it. We didn't get to the position of being one of the fastest growing economies by sticking it to the taxpayers. Please help me stop this trend and share with your friends.”
On the surface, this would appear to be the business-as-usual approach of a Democrat House and a Republican governor.  Not true.

Yesterday, Gov. Haley wrote:
“Your Republican House just voted to raise your taxes by $365 million next year.  If that stunned you as much as it stuns me here’s how your legislator voted Y means they voted to raise your taxes, and means they voted to protect your wallet, and the means they didn't vote at all.”
There is a recurring theme in Gov. Haley’s protest: she is a Republican governor dealing with an unruly left-leaning allegedly Republican-controlled state House of Representatives.

Does anyone reading this remotely believe that the people of South Carolina support these efforts on the part of their legislators?  And does anyone reading this now not understand why I could care less what the label is after a candidate's name?

You see, this is why I've long since abandoned the pretense of loyalty to a party label… Particularly a party label as meaningless as this.

I believe that the phrase “representation” is supposed to mean a great deal more than some sort of an ascension to a position with a title where special interests kiss your ring, and then, kiss a great deal more to get what they want as opposed to the people you represent… and what those same people who actually elected you want.

I spent six years on House legislative staff in Olympia, and I freely admit that very few can withstand the pressure, withstand the bribes, withstand the fawning deference, withstand the cults of personality, and withstand the seduction away from being true to yourself and true to those who elected you.

You compromise your principles… At first, just a little bit. But then, you can justify that, with a claim that for example: it’s “for the greater good” internal argument.

It’s not unlike killing people in combat. For most, the first time, it's really, genuinely, difficult. But each subsequent time it becomes easier, and easier, and easier.

The parallels with the legislature are frighteningly similar. The first time you walk away from principle, it’s very very difficult. But each and every time after that it becomes easier and easier.

For those of us on the other end of the equation, that is to say the part of the constituency who apparently quite foolishly expects those we've elected to represent our view and not their own in the legislative scenario, there’s only so many things we can do as a result.

Personally, once an elected representative has violated his or her sacred trust for their constituency, they are not unlike a dog that feels compelled to kill chickens.

A dog killing chickens cannot, I believe, be trained or have his behavior modified in such a way that chickens will ever be safe around such an animal.

Elected officials are no different.

In the past, I've extended my trust to a relative few elected officials. That trust is a precarious thing in that why I trust them has to do more with the fact that I believe that they sincerely represent me, instead of themselves.

Once that trust is broken, how do you go about ever getting it restored?

I don’t believe you can. The ease of violating trust comes at a horrific cost and usually happens at the worst possible time. What does the elected official say to apologize? “I’m sorry, I'm not going to do it again?”

What makes that problematic is that the damage that has taken place because of the violation of their trust cannot be repaired.

On far too many occasions, we are told that if we do not like the acts of those we elect, we can simply remove them from office at the next election. And on the surface, that’s correct.

But digging down a little further, one has to ask the question: does that get the multimillion/multibillion dollar project unbuilt? Does that get the tax that has been collected from us against our will be returned to us?  Does that get the unneeded, unwanted project designed to appease the special interests that are behind that expensive betrayal unbuilt?

Of course not.  And they count on that.

Meanwhile, for those paying attention...for those foolish enough to actually "believe"... the indignity of betrayal by those we've trusted results in a pain that cannot adequately be described.

I frequently wish that I was blissfully unaware of any of these things as so many of us are. I imagine how much simpler my life would be if I just lived in a vacuum of ignorance; unknowing and uncaring about the day-to-day operation of the government bent on stripping our wallets bare like a carcass out in the middle of the desert.

I wish I did not know what I know. It is a terrible burden to bear, primarily because so many of us who actually DO pay attention bear this knowledge alone.

Over the years, I've used this platform and many others to try and warn, to try and educate, to try and inform people of what is really going on in government only to frequently be ridiculed, attacked, and for the most part, ignored.

Usually, I'm proven to be correct. But being correct simply isn't enough. Because one of the biggest problems out of all of this is that those in elective office count on our short attention spans, our short memories and our ignorance.

I have no doubt that many in office will take credit for these projects… Without bothering to really discuss in detail how these projects came to be. And when attacked for this sort of thing in their next election campaign, instead of telling the truth and owning up to their betrayal, they'll just counterattack and deflect and lie and exaggerate in order to avoid responsibility for what they have done.

The only defense to this sort of thing is knowledge. The only defense to this sort of thing is accurate information, information as to how it came about, information as to who is being paid off and information as to who in fact benefits from these betrayals... either monetarily, politically or both.

Anything else? Well, it's just like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

(While no grammarian, I apologize for all the typos.  The surgery on my hand and pain medication makes it seem like I'm a graduate of Seattle Public Schools even more than usual.)

1 comment:

Jack Buckmeir said...