The Ridiculous Objections

While most people agree that Representative Government requires that all bills get a fair hearing and a recorded vote, politicians have a few ridiculous objections they spew out when objecting to Open Government. While they might sound reasonable at first, they’re all just excuses to keep from doing the right thing. They are “red herrings.” Their real purpose is to maintain dictatorial power, while feigning concern about some supposed problem that might arise if all bills get a fair hearing and a recorded vote.

Objection 1: “If we let all the bills be heard, we’ll be overrun with ‘frivolous’ bills and never get our work done.”

  • This assumes the committee chairman has superior wisdom to the People’s Representatives about what bills are “frivolous” or not. This is absurd, and belies an arrogance unbecoming to an elected public servant. It is common to see many good bills, with passionate citizen support, killed just because the chairman or their boss doesn’t want them heard. Often it is just because the political power brokers don’t want to go on record about their real beliefs. Or they might be in debt to a Special Interest. It is common for a legislator to speak one way in public, and act another behind the scenes. This deceit and hypocrisy need to end.
  • This also assumes that the only thing keeping elected Representatives from introducing a flood of “frivolous” bills is the dictatorial wisdom of the committee chairman who will not let them be heard. In practice, many bills a Representative might not support at all are sent to bill drafting and then to committee knowing, even hoping, they will be killed. They duck their responsibility to constructively interact with their constituent by wasting staff resources drafting a bill they would never support. But it makes the constituent happy.

Objection 2: “Even if the bill is a good bill, we don’t have time to hear all the bills.”

  • This is just a variant on Objection 1. Basically, the argument says, “We don’t have time to have Representative Government. We are so busy giving you good government with all these other laws we’re passing, we just don’t have time to let all voices be heard.” The argument is laughable on its face. If they don’t have time to do the job they were elected to do, then why are they there? Besides, how many new laws do we need? It is time to start repealing all laws that infringe upon our life, liberty and property rights.

Objection 3: “We can’t trust the People to run or influence the government. They don’t understand the real problems, and to hear their bills might divert us from the real problems.”

  • This is just another variation on the arrogant, paternalistic theme that the power brokers know what’s best for us, and we should just shut up and leave the driving to them. Do you agree with them? Do you think it is time to put a stop to such high-handed attitudes?

The truth of the matter is that the legislative process has been corrupted over the years by this systemic flaw. Whichever party wins expects to use the spoils of power to push its own agendas, regardless of what the public wants or whether they kill Representative Government in the mean time. Special Interests have a deep reach into a Secret Government.

When all bills get a fair hearing and a recorded vote, any bills introduced by a legislator become public record. If a potential opponent sees that the legislator is offering bills that he thinks will not be favored by the electorate (“frivolous”?) , he will certainly use this record against the legislator in the next election. It’s called Representative Government, remember?

Further, legislators live and work in a world of peers just as the rest of us mortals do. They are mindful of the quality and quantity of bills they introduce. There is a self-policing effect that takes place that helps regulate the number of bills introduced. After all, the most effective legislators just happen to be those who are the most respected by their peers.

I vividly remember what one of the power brokers told me when I protested the same dictatorial attitude during my legislative service 27 years ago. The Rep looked me in the eye and calmly said: “What good is power if you don’t use it?” This attitude is common to both parties, and undercuts the entire premise of Representative Government.

In summary, all the objections against Open Government are themselves “frivolous” rationalizations designed to protect the power of the majority party and subvert true Representative Government.