Monday, June 13, 2011

At least he didn't tweet his wiener

Anybody in another state want to trade residencies with me?

I ask that because while I love Louisiana, I hate having to vote here. It seems like the only choices we ever have are between radical Republicans and uninspiring Democrats who use the word “conservative” to describe themselves in their ads.

Between the advent of the tea party and my four-year flirtation with comparatively more diverse Missouri elections, my ballots are harder than ever to mark. It’s more of a process of elimination than anything else. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of deal-breakers to go around.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry (R-District 3) recently snubbed an invitation to discuss the debt ceiling at the White House with President Obama and other prominent leaders. Landry has garnered a lot of press for his decision, the reasons for which he laid out in this Daily Advertiser editorial:

I have the utmost respect for the presidency, Congress, and the Constitution. However — during his presidential tenure — Barack Obama has blatantly ignored Congress, our courts, the Constitution, and — most importantly — the American people. Regardless, I did not attend the meeting because of my commitment to the people of the 3rd District. They elected me to be a different kind of Congressman ...

To paraphrase: “The American people deserve leadership that will go to Washington and demand that Obama and Congress represent the American people. Washington is a terrible place housing a broken system, which is why I spent time and money feverishly convincing you to send me there. Now that it’s my turn to represent and shake things up, the last thing I need to do is to represent and shake things up. I’d rather sit back, do nothing, harrumph about it for the media and let Obama stew over the political victory that I earned from my lack of leadership.”

Now, I’m not exactly a conservative or vaguely one either, but I imagine that a citizen’s desire to be represented transcends party lines. At least in theory. In practice, it’s not that hard to picture Landry’s constituency just as happy that he held his breath until he turned blue.

What that’s supposed to accomplish is a mystery to me. I guess President Obama’s supposed to say, “Well, this freshman from Louisiana won’t talk to me. He really stuck it to us Democrats! Guess we’ll change into Republicans now!”

Seems to me more like he’d say, “Well, Rep. Landry had a chance to pitch his views, but he decided not only to not visit, but to make a political stunt out of it. We can’t afford such petulance in these tough economic times.”

Any way you slice it, Landry’s snub is at best a sugar high for Louisiana conservatives. At worst, it epitomizes the peril of electing officials on anti-government sentiment — officials who seem determined to prove through example that government doesn’t work. I don’t care what your political views are; we have enough on our national plate without this self-righteous drama.

Good faith is what makes our governmental processes work. Landry should have attended the meeting without hesitation. And if Obama refused to entertain Landry’s input, then Landry could at least say he tried, and could appeal to voters on those grounds. Instead, he decided to 1) make himself the center of attention by 2) proudly asserting his refusal to do his job and to interact with his co-workers, either of which by itself deserves scorn.

The saving-tax-money excuse was rich, too. Isn’t it more wasteful to pay someone a congressional salary to do nothing than it is to foot a trip to D.C. where he might accomplish something? Not from what I hear, apparently.

Landry’s stunt may be just the motivation I need to hit the polls when election time comes around again. Or maybe I’ll just follow his example and stay home, complaining about how making a difference doesn’t matter. Add that salary, and it’s all good.


Jason said...

What's worse, I truly don't see any viable candidates on the horizon. The idea of a progressive gaining any traction in this state, with the possible exception of New Orleans proper is minuscule.

We are victims of socio-political geography I suppose. Cultural evolution is a sloooow process.

Louisiana's Libertarian said...

I would add to your critique that neither side wants to fix the real issues at the heart of the problems. Neither side is talking about major cuts in defense spending and changes from our National Offense to a national defense. Neither side has asked the tough questions regarding the complete overhaul of social programs, including the end of moribund programs that help special interest groups such as farmers, select manufacturers, and other craftsmen that have long since lost any semblance of purpose.

The REAL problem in Louisiana is that Republicans and Democrats are quite literal cut from the same cloth. There are very few differences, if any at all. Many Democrats would be considered Republicans in other states. The problem pervades the entire U.S. as both parties only vary in degrees rather than what the rhetoric tries to portray.

Though I am not a progressive in any way; I would respect the Democrat Party if they would embrace TRUE pacifism and fiscal responsibility. I am not a neo-conservative, but I could respect a Republican Party that was TRULY about individual liberty and fiscal responsibility like it claims. Sadly, the words ring hollow from both sides when very little policy actually changes between administrations; oftentimes leading to intensification of prior policies.

Just call me a libertarian without a home.

Ian McGibboney said...

Jason - That assumes that the culture is evolving in the first place. Politically, I feel like it's getting worse. When I first started voting in 1998, it still felt like there were options in many races. By 2007, I was grateful that I was not around to vote for governor; I don't think I could have consciously voted for anyone on the ballot. And like you said about today, there doesn't seem to be anybody who appeals to our views. If I ever decide to run for office, I will move to a more progressive state. That gives me about 47 options.

LL - I will concur that in Louisiana, pretty much everyone used to be a Democrat regardless of ideology, and so it means less to be a Democrat than it does to be a Republican. However, I disagree that both sides are all that similar, either here or nationally. Not when double standards for politicians are so apparent and the political climate is so partisan. The blurred line in Louisiana politics does not translate into a diverse electorate; in fact, the opposite is true. Not because the parties are alike, but because conservatism rules the day. And as conservative voters drift toward the Republican Party, the Democrats will be better defined and less relevant.

In any case, I would prefer our elected officials do what it takes to effect positive change (or at least prevent negative change, as the Wisconsin Democrats did) rather than some petulant publicity stunt that does nothing but make one person feel important, and denies his people what could have been substantial input in high places. We need less of that in both parties.

Kelli said...

I understand why you are so disgruntled over Jeff Landry's decision. On the face of it, the situation presents as just another polarizing politician. At the core, however, is simply a petty and pretentious jerk. Do you think that maybe you are feeding the political divide by giving more credence to his political point of view versus his magniloquence?

Ian McGibboney said...

No, I don't think so. Pointing out deliberate division is not itself division. Landry is probably enjoying greater popularity in this area for his stand, because Obama is not popular here. It disgusts me on a political level and it disgusts me on a simpler level - the guy should do his job. Or at least make an attempt to do so. I'm tired of obstructionists like this guy. Stand for something where it counts.