Monday, August 07, 2006


I just re-read a story that re-blows my mind. An elected "official", Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D of GA, threw a hissy fit when stopped by Capitol Police for not following the rules at a security checkpoint . She threw her cell phone at a law enforcement officer, and then cried foul, claiming "inappropriate touching" when they detained her. She wasn't wearing her congressional pin, which is a sort of ID badge (not enough of one, in my opinion). I suppose she expected the Police to remember what she looks like and just let her through, because she's been elected, after all. Now, if she looks like this all the time, I gotta say she'd be pretty memorable, in that crazy-lady-with-200-cats sort of way.
But the bigger question here isn't Rep. McKinney's obviously detached perception of reality. It isn't even her "I'm above everything because I'm a congress-person" attitude, exhibited by her claims of being assaulted when, in point of fact, she could have (and probably should have) been arrested for battery of a law enforcement officer. The bigger question has less to do with the representative and her kind. It rests with the people.
Why is it that so many people around the world can see her as a caricature of a lawmaker, a political whacko (its a technical term) and someone that most of us wouldn't be represented by, when she repeatedly wins elections? What do people see in these fringe candidates that gets them elected? Are there really that many nut jobs in America?
Here's a less extreme example. When I lived in deepest, darkest southern California (the border was a mere 15 minute drive away) I was represented at the Federal level by Barbara Boxer. She's far more liberal than I am, but that's not really why I disliked her representation.
I disagree with the rules of the game as they are at this time. Representatives are in Washington DC to get money for the states. I don't like the way it works, but until that changes, those are the rules that govern. Barbara has failed in that job, getting California less and less funding every time around. Diane Feinstein has garnered more funding for San Francisco's alleged illegal immigration problem (must be importing hippies from somewhere) than the rest of California gets. That's just not right, and it points directly to a failure in representation.
Which really just means that an innefective employee has the job. OK, then, vote her out and replace her. Californians of various political stripes have voiced their displeasure; its not just us whacky kill-em-all-for-oil neo-cons. She's been eminently beatable for the past couple elections. But what do the people do? The reelect her.
I suspect that this phenomena (and I'm not speaking strictly of female elected officials, those are just two of the plethora of examples I could use, from both genders and all political affiliations) rests with the fact that Americans have grown lazy. I started voting when I came of age, and haven't ever missed voting in an election that I was eligible to vote in. But there are family members, friends, and aquaintances of mine that can't be bothered to vote. At all. Many that do don't put in serious study into their candidates because of busy schedules. I've taken the easy road from time to time and voted the party line, but I've been far less disappointed when I have, compared to "if I hadn't". In those cases, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting; the candidates were known entities.
What happens now, it seems, is that when there are new candidates, such as presidential hopefuls, we the people vote more on appearances than policies. Once they're in office, the easy way is to keep them there. More's the pity.
In the end, regardless of what political stripe one wears, one gets the government one votes for. Sort of a political "you get what you pay for." When people get elected and they do something rash, foolish, illegal, immoral, or criminal, the finger of guilt, at the end of the day, points to the people that put them there.

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