What's Good For The Goose
August 31, 2009
By Tom Barrett
There's an old saying that "What's good for the goose is good for the gander." While it is normally applied to husbands setting one standard for themselves and another for their wives (or vice versa), it has been used a lot lately by taxpayers asking Congress to pledge that they will use the same healthcare plan they inflict upon the citizens.
I would like to apply it differently today. The death of Senator Edward Kennedy brings to the forefront an example of the type of Goose/Gander hypocrisy that goes on between the two major political parties in our nation constantly. In this case it involves Democrat hypocrisy, but let me hasten to say that Republicans also engage in this kind of manipulation of the legislative process.
First, a little background. Up until the time John Kerry ran for president, Massachusetts law mandated that the Governor of that state would make a temporary appointment to fill the unexpired term of any US Senator from the state. That was fine when there was a Democrat governor, which was almost always.
But when John Kerry ran for president Mitt Romney, a Republican, was governor. "Teddy" Kennedy, fearful that Romney would appoint a Republican should Kerry by some miracle win, pushed Massachusetts state legislators to CHANGE THE LAW for his political purposes. In Massachusetts, what Kennedy's want, Kennedy's get. And so the law was legally (but not morally) changed to require a special election instead of a Gubernatorial appointment.
Recently, realizing that he would not complete his term of office, "Teddy" decided that having the governor appoint his replacement was a good idea, after all. Coincidentally, the current governor of Massachusetts is a Democrat. So, once again Kennedy pushed Massachusetts state legislators to CHANGE THE LAW for his political purposes.
This is just one of dozens of examples in which one party uses its majority power to give itself special advantages, only to fight against those very perks once they are no longer the majority party. Regardless of which party engages in this childish activity, it is wrong, it is stupid, and it is beneath the dignity of men and women elected by the people to serve our nation. (The reason it is stupid is that many of us – but, unfortunately, not most us – are smart enough to see through it.)
The very worst example of this type of misuse of legislative power is called "gerrymandering." Most of us have seen the word in articles or heard it on TV. We know from the context that it is something bad, but many of us don't know what it means.
So here is the definition: "Gerrymandering is a term that describes the deliberate rearrangement of the boundaries of congressional districts to influence the outcome of elections." The first "gerrymander" was a district created by Elbridge Gerry, Governor of (surprise!) Massachusetts. Because he had to draw the lines in weird ways to accomplish his political goals, it looked like a salamander. Thus the name "Gerrymander."
There are two main reasons why the party in power will gerrymander. They may cause "dilution" by changing district lines in such a way as to spread the minority votes across several districts so that they lose their strength. Or they may gerrymander in such a way as to cause "packing," where they concentrate the opposing party's votes in a few districts, leaving the majority party in control of more districts overall.
The simple solution would be a strict system of districts based on geography and population, with no regard to the political party, race or religion of the people in the districts thus formed. But because that makes sense, the politicians will never go for it.
The worst part of gerrymandering is that it almost guarantees the reelection of incumbents. Most of the abuses in Washington are caused by the fact that there are no term limits. The president can only serve two terms, but senators and congressman can squat in their cushy offices until they die, protected by gerrymandering (for the Congressmen) and passing our pork (for both houses). Of course instituting term limits would require the consent of the very politicians who would lose power were it to be made law. So, fat chance of that happening.
So, what's a citizen to do? The only people who can enact laws to make legislators act in a decent, moral way are the legislators themselves. And they're not very likely to enact laws that restrict themselves.
Wait! Here's an idea! Why don't we elect decent, moral men and women to public office? Here's a plan…
Don't elect anyone to a statewide office unless he or she has served with honesty and honor in a local office where we can watch them up close.
Don't elect anyone to a national office unless he has or she has served with honesty and honor in a state office.
We need to KNOW the people we elect to office, not just through campaign slogans, sound bites or because they are famous. We need to see how they function in office, under pressure, when the chips are down.
We've had enough jokers elected because they had name recognition. Jesse Ventura, the loudmouth wrestler was elected governor of Minnesota, and what a joke he has been. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governator of California on the assumption that he was a Republican; he turned out to be a RINO.
Its sounds harsh, but we get the legislators we deserve. If we don't take the time to really examine the records of the people running for office, read their speeches, examine their websites, read their books; then we have no right to complain when they turn out to be immoral villains.
I guarantee you that any intelligent, decent person who read Al Gore's book, "Earth in the Balance" would never have voted for him. That's why Gore spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to track down and destroy every copy in existence.
And if all the poor, deluded people who voted for Obama had read his writings, he certainly would not have been elected. And that's just his published books. When he ran for president, he arranged for all the really juicy stuff to be put under lock and key. Harvard agreed to keep confidential every paper written by him or his wife, Michelle. Some of them, especially Michelle's, were pretty radical.
But Americans don't read. We're much too busy for that. We get our information about world and domestic events in between the sports and the weather on the evening news. And that's why we have the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch of our government all controlled by Socialists. The idea of checks and balances among the three branches of government is great, but not when they're all controlled by one man.
America, wake up. If we don't start electing people with consciences and morals to public office at all levels, we can kiss our Republic goodbye.