Good government won’t protect us from bad driving
“Perhaps the most important accomplishment of my administration has been minding my own business.” – Calvin CoolidgeI’ve become the person I used to mock – I garden, I have a small dog, and last week, I bought a golf shirt. (Not that I golf, but I do occasionally like to impersonate Realtors.) During the 60s, like many of my generation, I’d yell, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve amended that to “40” … then “50” … and lately it has been, “don’t trust anyone who is dead.” And the height of my counterculture hypocrisy is, I’ve become part of the “establishment.”
I’m an elected official. I proudly serve on my town’s city council. My campaign slogan was, “Vote for Jeffrey: His socks match.”Holding public office has its plusses and minuses: I’m allowed to use the town’s car wash, but it does absolutely no good when you are caught, dead to rights, running a stoplight on your motor scooter. Another positive aspect of the nearly unpaid job is that you get to make decisions that can improve the lives of friends and strangers. In other words, you can offer input as to what direction your community will travel. Even with the small-town issues I encounter, it’s is an awesome responsibility. I try to balance my own opinions and prejudices with what is best for the population at large. Sometimes I get it right; other times I don’t. Many of the issues are simple no-brainers – like promoting affordable childcare and offering handicap parking for those of us with ADD – but others are much more involved. Subjects like growth vs. quality of life, the possibility of paid parking, whether the cops can carry Tasers, and the allocation of many millions for town projects and improvements. To my knowledge, I’ve never behaved in a self-serving manner. In fact, I’m proud to say I’ve often voted against my own best interests. For instance, I voted that the cops could have Tasers without a thought that they might shock scooter riders who ignore stoplights. Please don’t think I am overestimating my importance. Many have served before me and many will serve after. I’m one of seven votes on a body of which most are more experienced and financially sophisticated than I’ll ever be – even if I quit drinking.
Often is the case when I’ll anguish the night before a meeting over the vote that I’ll cast the next day. After all, voters placed their trust in me, and I don’t want to screw it up. I can only imagine the pressure on big-time elected officials like presidents, senators and Congress-people who make the difficult decisions that affect the lives of millions. Just this week, the House and Senate will consider whether to approve a record-sized emergency spending bill of about $66 billion. A delay of the passing of this bill could affect the safety of our troops and conduct of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is also a bill to give relief to farmers and hurricane victims, and a bill to help combat avian flu. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has its hand out for $32 billion, which will help them continue to keep our borders secure and citizenry safe. But before they consider all that, they had to wrestle with the earth-shattering issue of whether to amend our country’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.There are 27 amendments in the Constitution, and this would have been only the second one that actually takes away a right. We all remember the 18th Amendment: it created Prohibition. (And we all know how successful that was.) All who support amending our Constitution admit there is not nearly enough Congressional support to do so. Rather, they feel it is important to make clear that, as conservatives, they define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
How you define marriage is up to you. Personally, I used to define marriage as a “union between one man and one woman who will occasionally vacuum,” but I’ve had to rethink that; now I think of it as a civil union uniting two people, who love each other, in a (hopefully) lifelong commitment.All that aside, our president and Congress has much more important things to spend time on, especially since even the most ardent of them admits the amendment had no chance passing. They are simply wasting their time and our money, pandering to the Fanatical Right. Conservatives themselves suggest the percentage of the population that is gay stands between 1 and 3 percent. Currently more than 15 percent of children younger than 18 live in poverty, so why haven’t I seen any proposed amendments addressing that?There are big issues that are much more important and affect many more Americans than gay marriage. Like 46 million Americans without health insurance, 37 million Americans living below the poverty level, one of three children born out of wedlock, growing combat fatalities, exploding deficit. And let’s not forget, hardworking, small-town politicians being unfairly persecuted for blasting through stop lights.Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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