Our legislators are a bunch of cowards

OK, so I don’t usually write about politics. Mostly that’s because I find the whole topic disgusting. There’s something in me that wants my elected officials to live up to the vision of the Constitutional Convention, a vision that had regular folks (OK, white males that owned property) going off to do the nation’s (or state’s) business as a form of public service, then returning home to live out the rest of their regular lives.

I admit it. I’m on a tear tonight.

This comes from reading my Oregon voters’ pamphlet over and over and wanting to go out and shake my fist at the sky and shout curses. What is wrong with these people?

I want my elected representatives to figure out what’s required to do the business of the government and then to get on with making it happen. I don’t want a bunch of numb-nuts (an old car-racing expression) calculating what will make them more popular in the next election cycle. I think decisions should be made based on what is right, fair, and practical, not on what will make the official more popular with the voting public and able to come back and suck from the public trough for another two, four, or six years.

I want people of character and courage. There don’t seem to be too may of them around any more, at least among our elected officials.

As an electorate, we probably have only ourselves to blame. When someone running for office had the audacity to tell the truth, we pilloried them. I’m thinking here of national figures like Edmund Muskie and Thomas Eagleton, but I suspect local examples abound as well.

What I don’t want are the sort of people we have in office now, people who are afraid to make the hard decisions. Instead, the elect to send the to “the voters,” a singularly ignorant bunch of consumers who, it appears, can be easily swayed by political rhetoric and a NIMBY attitude–“If it doesn’t have a negatice impact on me, I’m all for it whether it makes any sense or not.”

My ballot has two measures on it (actually three, but one is local and so non-controversial as to be ignored). These two measures have in common that they can be presented in language so distorted as to be downright deceptive. One is an attempt to circumvent the clearly expressed will of the people of the state of Oregon, clearly expressed in not one but two elections. It truly is, as opponents have advertised, a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Measure 49 will probably pass because the majority of the people who will be voting on it are too lazy to read the entire measure and too ignorant to understand what it really says if they did.

Measure 50 is another animal altogether. It’s a blatant attempt to raise taxes by assessing a minority too small to obstruct it: smokers. But it is an absolutely immoral and irrational approach to goverment and to government financing.

The Oregonian supports both measures. I don’t know if the editorial staff is that dumb or if they have been co-opted somehow. But I’m disgusted, thoroughly.

This, of course, is only part of the problem. I’ve wondered for years how people elected to do the most important business of the republic could be so caught up in sexual peccadilloes and fantasies that they could ignore the business of the government to address moral issues. If Larry Craig is not fit to represent Idaho, it seems to me that this is a decision for the people of Idaho, not the U. S. Senate. Focusing on scandal is a way of ignoring the important things that need to be done.

This is the end of this rant. I can’t fix these things, any more than Tiresias could protect Oedipus from his fatal flaws. But I think I feel better for having vented.


4 Responses to “Our legislators are a bunch of cowards”

  1. MoskerVenice Says:

    To quote the great underachiever: “I feel your pain.”

    I guess when the whole lets “keep California out” wave hit Oregon, the infection of legislative ethos hit you even harder than transplants and traffic.

    Because anything of consequence in the state legislature requires not a simple majority, but 2/3, we’re in terminal gridlock and governed by ballot initiatives, half of which aren’t even constitutional or are so poorly written they’re meaningless.

    Damn. Some of those fire engines they promised a few years ago would have been nice.

  2. Marianne Says:

    Oh, Dave, I’m just so disgusted. We pay these people’s salaries, and they are not trivial salaries. All we ask is that they figure out what is required in the common good and what is the fairest way to finance it. Then we get this crap. . .

    I’m learning to hate government, in large part because the governing seem to have lost sight of their roles. If they were in private business they’d have been fired long ago, and good riddance.

    It seems to me irrational to refer everything to “the voter.” Most voters are ignorant (I started to write “stupid,” but I think this is more accurate), for starters, and I think this is what our elected officials are relying on. And this disgusts me, too.

    If we fired all the legislators, would the state budget balance better? Certainly things wouldn’t run any worse.

  3. ingernet Says:

    well, Measure 50 failed, if it makes you feel any better.

  4. Marianne Says:

    No, it really doesn’t. I’m about to blog about it. . .

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