Apr 04

As I’ve written before, “Nothing is more dangerous than the combination of bad ideas and great communication”.    I want to add to that, by including voter apathy.

Witness the birth of ObamaCare, and the justifiable rage that has ensued as a result of the state taking one sixth of our private economy into its control.   In the days before the historic vote, note that not even the New York Times could produce a poll saying that a majority of Americans wanted this bill to become law.  Most remarkably, as of March 29th, a stunning 54% of likely voters would see it repealed.   In morphing their supposed mandate for “change” as pertaining to healthcare and health insurance policy into a supposed mandate for this bill, Obama’s operatives reached their peak (thus far) in disingenuousness.

The rage exists simply because our representatives did not represent.   Instead, they blatantly misrepresented.   They blatantly insisted in getting this bill passed before Easter recess where they would have been more directly confronted by their constituents.   For this bill, it was literally now or never.

In the end, the protests in Washington, the PAC spending, the letter writing and advertising campaigns, the endless blogging and tying-up of phone lines did not matter.   219 Representatives and 56 Senators did what they wanted to do, in pure “damn the torpedoes” fashion. Even in their unanimous opposition, there simply weren’t enough Republicans to make a difference.

And therein lies the biggest lesson.

In the end, it really does boil down to the character of the individual members in Congress.   It is they who get to create legislation, not us.   At the moment of voting, they are in control, not us.  That should now be clear to everyone.  So when you combine the character of someone who would sell their vote with the character of someone who would buy it, a market for votes where none should exist, things like ObamaCare are made possible.

The opposite power dynamic exists on exactly one day every two years.   This coming November 2nd, theoretically the voters could turn the entire Congress out.   We all know that won’t happen.   But think about it for a second:  Nancy Pelosi, who orchestrated the resurrection of ObamaCare, has been voted back into Congress eleven times.    Steny Hoyer, fourteen times, Maxine (“socializing“) Waters, nine times. Bart Stupak, eight times.  Henry Waxman, seventeen times.  Charlie Rangel, nineteen times.   John Dingell, twenty-seven times. How about in the Senate?   Harry Reid, three times (now in his twenty-fourth year as a Senator).  Barbara Boxer, twice.  Barbara Mikulski, three times.  Arlen Spector, four times.  Enough already (of them and these statistics).

We let this happen.   There are more of us than there are of them.  So the only explanation for the lack of a permanent limited-government majority in Congress is a lack of voter participation by us.  We have received the legislation that through our own voter apathy we allowed to happen.  Voter turnout, defined by George Mason University’s Dr. Michael McDonald as those eligible to vote (not merely those of voting age), still remains pathetic in the low 60% range.   This means over a third of the country does not care enough about its future to either help keep it as it is, or change it into something better. All of this needs to end.   We are now seeing the consequences of the status quo.

But it seems like those on the limited-government side are finally getting the message.   Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents are emerging in large numbers.   And Conservative challengers to Republicans are out there as well, as Florida’s Charlie Crist knows only too well.  And of course, there’s the Tea Party movement, to which Gandhi’s famous quote hopefully applies:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

And on that note, support thus far for the Tea Party is encouraging. Indeed, it is theirs for the taking.   To those of you stepping out and wearing that label, please, make us proud:   Be professional, not amateurish.  Be courteous, not rude.   Be persuasive, not repulsive.  Be effective, not merely energetic.  Hit the spell check button.  In short, be electable. For every step back we need two steps forward, not the other way around.

To those of you who can’t possibly run for office, by all means, support those who can.     I firmly believe that no one can buy an election, but I also firmly believe that one can’t get elected without getting their message out.  That comes down to money, and often a lot of it.    When the entire character of the country’s political foundation is being assaulted, can you come up with a better use of fifty bucks, or a hundred, or a thousand, than to help the right kind of leaders get into office, and to stay there? Leverage the professionals as well,  like The Club For Growth, Americans for Prosperity, or FreedomWorks.   With the kind of political leadership we have in place right now, those who would constantly seek new ways to pick your pocket of those aforementioned funds and squander it,  is there any better investment?   Take out your checkbook and start writing.

And on November 2, 2010, make sure that you, and everyone you know, represent.

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31 Responses to “When Representatives Don’t Represent”

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  16. Ed Roberts says:

    “over a third of the country does not care enough about its future to either help keep it as it is, or change it into something better. ”

    Maybe it isn’t that we don’t care. It’s more likely that over a third of eligible voters see what a patent falsehood the entire electoral process is. We are not allowed to vote for any substantial change. Every two years we are presented with a choice between two morally retarded scumbags, distinguishable only by their names.

    If it was possible to change things by voting, then voting would have been eliminated altogether long ago. The vote is like the little toy steering wheel on an old fashioned car seat for babies. The baby entertains himself by pretending to drive while having no effect on the course of the car.

    The choice between W and Al Gore, or between McCain and Obama are excellent illustrations of the kind of choice the voter has in an election. The criminal behavior of Congress has nothing whatsoever to do with us. We are not guilty of the crimes of politicians, whether we vote or abstain from voting.

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  19. Ed Beusse says:

    Dean, Nice job on the article. I generally try to vote but with not knowing enough about the candidates (my apathy) I usually vote against any democrats or republicans and try to pick a libertarian, a marijuana reform or some other third party candidate. I also have finagled numerous times a way to close and open the curtain without casting any vote, you can do this by flipping a lever on the bottom of the voter booth board (look for it next time). I do all this as a vote against the “same old, same old” business as usual politicians… and I do value my right to vote. I want to avoid aligning (ever) with the two main political parties because I feel they are no different from each other and they are the same in they both endorse their own brand of economic or civil intervention, which is essentially all bad. No question our government is way to big and out of our control. I think it’s fantastic you have the level of detail you have and are writing on it, keep it up!

  20. rob severson says:

    I am fortunate to have been born in the greatest nation that has ever existed in this world, and for that I make no apologies. President Reagan was right in saying “America truly is the last best hope for true liberty on the face of the earth.” I am proud of the country I come from, and its strong legacy of heroism, bravery, and patriotism. However, as of late I have realized how disgusted and amazed I am at the indifference to our rights and liberties by my fellow countrymen. What has happened to make my people so docile, apathetic, and blindly obedient? Today we are teetering on the brink of destruction of this great nation, and most Americans continue with their lives completely oblivious. We have a private bank controlling our currency with loyalties not to our nation, but to that of its international shareholders; still the American people do not anger. We have a treasonous government body that openly refuses to follow the founding documents of this great nation. Yet still the American people do not anger. We have enslaved our children and grand children with the debt of our “social justice” to a degree from which they can never hope to recover. Even still, the American people do not anger. We send our children off to die in countries most Americans could not even point to on a map. EVEN STILL WE DO NOT ANGER. What will it take for my compatriots to wake up and see what is written in the blood of our forefathers. We refuse to listen to what history has taught us, and thus I fear, we are doomed to repeat it. We so willingly accept the promise of a brighter tomorrow for just a sliver of our personal freedom and responsibility today. Every second we have more of our rights modified, molded and converted into some form that can ultimately be destroyed without so much as a peep from the general populous. All of this in the name of safety. Safety from sickness, safety from terrorism, safety from unfair markets, safety from our very beliefs from which this country was founded! Dare I say safety from a a chance at success? No longer will I stand idly by and allow my voice to be quenched. No longer will I step quietly into the dreary future that is being forged for my children. No longer will I take for granted the rights that so many people before me have died to protect. NO LONGER. I firmly believe that it is not yet too late for America, but we have to start today. Every person in America needs to stand up and shout “No longer will I stand idly by while you destroy my country!” We must demand that the people that are fortunate enough to represent us in political office are honest and truthful about every matter, at every moment, no matter how damning the result may be. If they cannot follow this simple axiom, then they must be discarded. These are troubled times and we do not have time for games. We must at all times search for the truth and not accept what is so willingly placed at our feet for consumption. It is our duty and should not be taken lightly.

  21. Champion says:

    I think Prof. McDonald’s metric for voter participation is a little off. I’m not sure how his model treats felons or immigrants.

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  24. David says:

    I certainly would not expect you to share my alternative view but I have heard little from the people of limited government describe what it is, only what it isn’t. If the vast majority of government spending is for the Pentagon and military expense, social security, and medicare/medicaid, what would you eliminate? Police, military, street lights, building codes, FAA, FTC, DEA, FCC, CDC, FDA, etc., etc., etc. Do you understand that private health insurance for a family of 3 can cost 1/3rd to 1/2 of the average American household income while insurance execs can make millions? It’s no problem for Wall Street execs and hedge fund managers who contribute nothing or less to pay for health insurnace (though it’s free for them anyway). It’s OK for you because you are secure but how about a caring nation that spends to protect your asses protecting others that don’t have your resources. It is about limited government or pure selfishness and greed?

    • Dave says:

      David is exactly correct. The deficit ballooned under Bush and where was your concern then? A vast majority of Americans were against the war in Iraq, correctly so as it turned out, and where was your outrage then? A vast majority of Americans DO want health care reform — a vast majority DO want a public option, but the entrenched conservatives simply want to delay and diffuse the action to further keep the status quo and lining their greedy pockets with ill got monies. Cut 10 B1 bombers and save $10billion? No, lets attack the poor and cut education.

      • Andrew says:

        With respect, you are both completely wrong. First, the editorial was about the patently obvious fact that the perpetual re-election resulting from gerrymandered districts and the cost of getting elected has made our state and federal government unrepresentative. This is plainly demonstrated by the passage of the health care bill which every single poll reports is opposed by a majority of the population.
        Furthermore, the author doesn’t suggest that health doesn’t need reform but that the bill Congress passed is not the way to do it.
        As to David’s question about government programs: they too, by and large, are unrepresentative of “we the people”, and most of the non-agency services he quotes (public safety, building codes, etc., are local, not state or federal government services

      • Administrator says:

        Dave,

        This site and associated forums were launched last summer… believe me, I had plenty of concerns with Bush’s ballooning deficits, as did anyone else wanting smaller and more effective government.

        Regarding the “vast majority” of Americans wanting health care reform in the form of this new set of laws, and in particular, a “vast majority” wanting a public option, please site your sources.

        And believe me again, if there were any meaningful number of “entrenched conservatives” in Congress, we’d all have Health Savings Accounts, tort reform, true competition amongst insurance companies with far more product offerings than we have now, and therefore, vastly cheaper health insurance available to all.

        Greed has absolutely nothing to do with it. If you think it does, then round up all of your friends, start a greed-free company (duly advertised as such) and take all the customers away from the greedy companies. Rest assured I’d fully support any desire you might have to make sure that the government can’t come in via corporate cronyism and give any advantage to any of your competitors.

    • Administrator says:

      David,

      For what limited government is, there’s a relative short document that spells it all out.

      I’m all for a caring nation. This site is predicated on that. However, the onus is on you to defend government attempts at “caring” through efforts that have not worked, are not working, and in fact, can not work.

      • Brad Teare says:

        Very interesting web site. As a person who believes in personal responsibility and freedom I agree with many of your ideas.

        As an aside, two spaces between sentences in publishing is unnecessary. It is a relic of the typewriter era. I find it distracting from what the writers are communicating. Check out any blog or book that is professionally edited and I think you will find this convention is universally followed.

        Thanks again. I don’t mean to be a crank on this topic.

        Keep up the good work!

        • Administrator says:

          Hi Brad,

          Very interesting observation… I see what you mean. That may be part of WordPress’ layout behavior, but I’m not sure. I’ll look into it. As someone who types for 10+ hours a day, it may be coming from me, in that I find myself putting a double space after the period almost without thinking! A hard habit to break, perhaps.

          Thanks for the feedback in any case.

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