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.