As a member of the Indiana House of Representatives, I never skipped a vote or voted “present” (as did a leading politician of today) rather than go on record on a “hot” issue. Fact is, I introduced some of the hottest issues that came to the House such as teaching evolution and creation on an equal basis in public schools; reinstatement of the sodomy laws; repeal and later expunging of the ERA; bringing back the death penalty; life sentence for rape; etc. I did as I promised in my campaign by voting for bills that were constitutional, limited government, supported family values, and were financially responsible. I also voted against a legislators’ pay hike considering it immoral to raise my own salary. I was accused of taking such positions for “appearance’s sake” rather than principle.
Of course, I got all kinds of flack from both parties for many of my votes. On the memorialization of Martin Luther King, Jr., I was the only member of House or Senate who voted “no,” a very loud “no.” Even my conservative friends were incensed since it made them appear “less than conservative.” They all agreed with me that a confessed fornicator (we knew even back then) did not deserve a special memorialization even though the bill meant nothing of consequence. The following January, the same thing happened exactly as before! I thought some of my “conservative” friends would join me voting “no,” but alas, they did not.
Under the same conditions, I would vote the same as I did during my time in office with one exception. I voted to expand government in our lives, something totally against my personal and political positions. A South Bend legislator introduced a bill that prohibited smoking in public buildings. I had been preaching against smoking all my adult life considering it a stinking habit. One that fouled everything, offended sensitive and allergic people, was a total waste of money and was one of the most stupid habits possible even to imagine—putting fire to your face and sucking it into your lungs! Surely, we must protect people from killing themselves.
In the late 1960s, the Federal Government required tobacco companies to print health warnings on cigarette packages and forbade radio and television advertising. Now in the late 70s, Indiana was considering forbidding smoking in any public building and I had to make a decision. I had never smoked a cigarette in my life and I hated them, even being near people who smoked. However, to give government the authority to control individual lives? Government does not have that authority—power yes, authority no.
Reluctantly I decided to support the bill. The day we voted is still vivid in my memory. There was a circus atmosphere in the House chamber with members on the first three or four rows all smoking big cigars and blowing smoke-rings above their heads. The bill’s author made his pitch for support then I made my way to the podium. I told them about my hesitancy to give government even more power over our lives, but I said, “This is one time I will restrict my basic principles and support this bill. After all, (I looked at my colleagues in the front rows as they clowned with each other) you don’t have any more right to blow smoke into the air I breathe than I have a right to spit in the water you drink. Both are reprehensible. Please support this bill.”
As I made that closing statement, the clowns in the front rows literally came out of their seats in anger. The bill was defeated. I was wrong. I had sold out not to special interests but to pragmatism; however, pragmatism should never trump principle. I had promised to always vote right no matter how it affected my friends, followers, foes, family, or finances. I did not imagine where the argument of “looking out for the people” was going to lead. Today, we know. I’m sorry I had a small part in leading America onto that famous “slippery slope” where we are cascading down toward disaster at breakneck speed.
We are hearing demands that the U.S. government start regulating food as California has banned trans fats followed by New York City, Philadelphia, etc. I have eaten healthy food most of my adult life. I eat very little beef, no pork, and lots of fish and poultry. I have taken a handful of vitamins and supplements most of my adult life. I have never drunk a beer, wine, or whiskey, or smoked a cigarette in my life. Never had a cup of coffee or tea. No cola in 40 years! Therefore, most call me a health food nut but government has no business in this business!
While I am adamantly against smoking, I should have been outspoken back then against the tobacco legislation as a matter of principle. I should have fought all the intrusion since. It is past time to tell the state and federal governments to butt out of our personal lives.
State and Federal governments have taken control and have arrogantly assumed authority government does not have legitimately. They tax sodas because they are bad for us, and they are. They want to limit salt, sugar, hamburgers, etc. Question: what is next? Our freedoms are being lost a little at a time. Does it matter if it happens in an overt attack or over decades? When is freedom gone? Once gone, it is usually gone forever.
Lesson learned: Desirable ends are never justified by using debatable means. Principle must never capitulate to pragmatism.
I should have mounted a major effort to stop a power grab long ago in the Indiana House, but I failed. I sold out. It is not extreme to say that once legislators get a taste of bloody power, they will never be satisfied albeit to “protect the citizens.”
Then it was smoking in public buildings, now it is no toys in “un-happy” meals and government authorized sexual abuse of citizens with officials grabbing genitals and breasts or stripping naked by technology.
The empty cattle cars are parked on the sidetracks today. They are not there for cattle. They are there for sheep. Or is that sheeple?
Copyright ©2010 Dr. Don Boys, Ph.D.