Friday, March 25, 2005

Mr. Totten's Got A Burr Under His Saddle

I posted this comment in reply to Mr. Totten's post titled "The Conservative Crackup".

Just my two cents:

"Elections are won in the center."

No, they aren't. If elections were won in the center, Lincoln Chaffee would be Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi would be a House back bencher. And John McCain might well be president.

Elections represent a choice that will have concrete repercussions spanning years. You don't pick a go- along - get- along to represent your interests. Elections are akin to loading your toolbox for a critical job, or picking the doctor who will perform your heart transplant.

Real leaders are going to have a track record of identifiable agenda points and clearly defined stances (whether accurate or not) on specific issues. Mere politicians will do what they have to do to win elections; their comfort zone lies in the system - wholly within the system - to the extent that their participation is an occupation unto itself.

This is o.k., because historically there's never been a parliament or legislature that has been noted for the caliber of the whole. The honors of history fall on those members that authored or enabled to pass bills that changed the course of states in times of stress. The moderates suit for business as usual - but they are frankly just temporizing influences at best, pawns at worst, when it comes to actually arriving at solutions to complex problems. This, too, is how it has always been.

System. Work. Well enough.

We are a nation divided. We have always been a tidal wave of change funneling through a slot canyon of bureaucracy. We are not broken. Not even close to being swept to either a socialist hell or a fascist theocracy. The system that was crafted with the intent of preserving the most liberty for individuals as possible yet allows for effective national government survives, and has functioned well enough to enjoy the support of the majority of the people.

Law is not a subtle thing. It is nothing like a fine quill pen and should always be treated with the respect afforded a sharp blade. It has works best when its power is aimed at the greatest good.

It is singularly unfit to pivot its power on one individual, in one unique case, in a mortal issue, with the undeniable and implicit consequence of establishing a precedent of individual relief by legislative action.

What would be the next exception, if the machinations of the Federal or state legislatures had stood? An act passed to protect a well- connected loser in an imminent domain court case? A religious figure (Catholic priest to Voodoo cult leader here) who seeks a zoning change and has the money and followers to lobby effectively?

The judiciary exists to attempt to solve the problems of individuals in relation to existing law. The flexibility exists to provide closure to parties.

Yes, Virgina, I'm still dead against the abuses perpetrated by overreaching jurists - but I acknowledge that their role often presents the grayest of grays where power and the ability to employ it exists. It is a consequence of the complexity of the issues they must face in the course of their duties; there's a reason why 'judge' and 'wise' are supposed to fit well together in a sentence.

But they are just men, in the end, trying to solve problems. They are never going to be perfect.

The Schaivo case has triggered a cusp in which existing seriously conflicting philosophies concerning the proper role of government, as well as the disparate public sentiments on what constitutes moral or ethical behavior, have been placed at nose- length for all of us.

I don't know what the hell I would do if I was Mr. Schaivo. I do know that if I was a legislator, all things being equal I would have fought the bills brought forth by the federal and Florida houses with my dying breath. They were misplaced; regardless of intent, they were misplaced efforts and demonstrated a lack of respect for the tremendous consequence inherent in landmark legislation.

I can understand the motives at play. From deeply moral to politically crass, I can see a huge field where all sorts of agendas could well drive support or opposition. But speaking only for myself, I would have left the question to the courts.

Note that the system has worked, though. That's important. The effort failed in its attempt.

2006 is coming. I'm a registered Republican. I don't know who I'll vote for for any particular race yet. I hardly ever do until I've seen the candidates in action. When I do choose, it will be based on the ability of the candidate (newcomer or incumbent) to convince me that he/she is serious about their intent to serve and worthy of the trust that they will support & defend, etc, before padding any particular personal ambitions.

I usually have lousy choices, far short of anything resembling an Ideal Choice. We all do, and always have.

The Schaivo case will fade with time. More people will go out of their way to leave last instructions and living wills. Doctors and lawyers will crank up their marketing for the same. Come 2006 and beyond, the issues by which individuals will judge their choices will be security, economic, and social... and each one will weight the mix to their own taste and vote accordingly. Unless an asteroid takes us all out, we'll end up with a troublesome mix in the congress and a president that cheers some and offends others.

And the sun will rise the next day.

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