Wed. Feb 18, 2004
Legislative Wedgies – It’s an election year, which brings talk about creating jobs, improving the economy, making health insurance more available, and protecting this country from terrorism. You know, the things you and I care most about.
But talk is cheap. Watch what they do.
The Georgia Legislature hasn’t made any headlines addressing the above problems. They moved right on to the social wedge issues they hope will get them re-elected … without actually having to accomplish anything concrete that improves the living standards of Georgians. That would be, like, hard.
It’s much easier to get attention by trying to amend the Constitution to restrict the rights of those that live under it: “A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage squeaked through the Georgia Senate on Monday, in what could foretell a tough battle in the House.”
“After more than two hours of pointed debate, the Republican-controlled Senate approved Senate Resolution 595 by a 40-14 vote ï¿½ just two more votes than it needed. The proposed constitutional amendment required a two-thirds majority to pass.”
“In the House, the resolution would need 120 votes to make it on the November ballot. Democrats hold 108 of the 180 seats. ‘It will get a majority of votes,’ said House Speaker Terry Coleman (D-Eastman). ‘I don’t know about 120.’”
“The proposed constitutional amendment, if approved by the House, would require approval by a majority of voters in November to be enacted.”
“Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Powder Springs) spoke against the resolution but ended up voting for it. He continued to criticize it afterward. ‘On the final version, I voted for it. Was it needed? No, because we already have a law,’ Thompson said. ‘We’re trying to out-moral each other so we can go home and say, ‘Yes, I’m a demagogue and a good one.’
And there you have a pristine example, from a Democrat: he spoke out against the amendment, then voted for it, and afterwards spoke out against it some more. Very courageous and impressive, Sen. Thompson, a highly principled stand on behalf of your constituents. Most of us peasants don’t get to have it both ways (“It’s unacceptable, but I still supported it, and it’s still unacceptable”), so we’re really more inclined to vote for those “special people” who do.
As I’ve written before, “To use a Constitutional Amendment in an attempt to restrict the rights of individuals is a blasphemy against American Democracy.” And in the Georgia Legislature, they’re really good at it.
In this very same session, they’re also trying to remove the separation of church and state: “House Republicans Tuesday unveiled their much-anticipated plan to allow government agencies to post the Ten Commandments in courthouses and other public buildings throughout Georgia.”
“Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Sharpsburg), a candidate for Congress, will introduce legislation that would allow local and state government to display historical documents with religious significance, including the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the Ten Commandments. The law would require the state attorney general to defend in court any government that posts all three of those documents.”
Tens of thousands of Georgians are out of work. Hundreds of thousands have no health insurance. The state budget is a mess. But these problems will have to wait, people. There’s more important things to be legislated, like morality (anyone remember Prohibition, and how well that Constitutional Amendment worked out?), and anything else they think might help get them reelected. In fact, I’m surprised we haven’t heard about a Flag Burning Amendment being proposed, since that’s another of the pressing problems in this state.
You, Constituent, are just a pawn to be manipulated into voting for them (or against them, as the case may be). And it is easier for them to do it with these “Hot Button” issues than with any substantive legislation that might actually improve your life.
Personally, I’m quite inspired by this. I’ll be tracking exactly how my state representatives vote. Since they seem to think these are the most important issues Georgians face, I’m more than willing to judge them on it. Any vote in favor of a Constitutional Amendment on marriage (when there’s already Georgia laws on the books defining marriage as heterosexual), or in favor of placing the Ten Commandments in Georgia Courthouses will result in me voting against that representative … Democrat or Republican.
In that respect, I’ve become a single issue voter. The Constitution is about restricting the power government holds over individuals, and guaranteeing individual rights (the right to vote, bear arms, freedom of speech, etc.). When you first open your yap about amending the Constitution to restrict the rights of individuals, you’ve shown me that you don’t understand the basics of our government well enough to deserve my vote.