Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why us-against-them was wrong

Politics in the Augusta area have always been interesting as the commission is currently, and unfortunately, largely divided by race. Previous politicians from that area, and from both parties, have faced numerous ethical scandals and, for some, even prison time.

Still, it's my hometown, and I love my hometown. It's because of that love that Jim Whitehead's attempts to make the special election for the 10th Congressional District an Augusta-vs.-Athens showdown were so disappointing to me. And it's why the comments of Frank Spears, a former Columbia County Commissioner, in this article in The Augusta Chronicle were pretty unfortunate.

Spears is all but claiming that not having an Augusta-area legislator in Congress will spell certain doom for the community and, by de facto, continuing to push forward this falsehood that a congressman from Athens-Clarke County (or elsewhere in the district) will prove to be detrimental for Augusta. Nothing could be further from the truth, quite frankly.

A good representative will work hard to provide for all residents in his district and, though I don't agree with Paul Broun on darn near anything, I have no reason to believe that he won't be out there lobbying for projects in his district.

The Medical College of Georgia isn't leaving Augusta. Nor is Fort Gordon or any other state/federal institutions in that community. To think otherwise is not only contrary to the actual political realities of today's environment, but it's also not even the actual proposed plans out there.


Anonymous StoptheBS said...

I don't feel like registering for the Augusta Chronicle, don't want to get cooties.

Any chance you could copy the article?

1:16 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...


You want to email me (check link on home page), and I can send it to via email.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous crewzin777 said...

Why not use one of the web's most useful tools?

7:02 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

Why is our standard of a 'good' representative that they "lobby hard for projects in our area?" Has democracy become nothing more than the clamor or special interests? Spreading out taxpayer dollars to my town instead of your town, for this project instead of that project, etc. ?

9:22 PM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

A representative represents the people of a specific area.

If a representative of Alaska does everything in her power to move government funded jobs to Alabama, I don't think it that unreasonable for Alaskans to be curious about that.

I think similar reasoning holds for why people do not want United States Congressmen putting forward legislation that creates a North American Union out of Canada, Mexico, and the US, or signing away sovereignty rights of the US to the United Nations.


9:39 PM  
Blogger Xon said...

But what I am questioning (Quixotically, I admit) is the very idea that things are supposed to be as follows:

1. There's a bunch of money lying around that has been confiscated from taxpayers, and this money is waiting to be 'appropriated' to different communities for different things.

2. If you want your community to improve, you need to elect a representative who can be trusted to go to D.C. and siphon some of that money into your community.

It's the whole scheme I am questioning. Of course we expect our local interests to be represented, and of course we favor our own national sovereignty over some Cthulu world order. The question is why does our definition of "represents our local interests" amount to "will bring a bunch of centrally-gathered money into our locale"?

7:55 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

Because, for better or for worse, in our society money makes the world go around. I don't know why this is terribly shocking to you, but that's the reality.

And congressional representatives, as well as other elected officials, work to lobby on behalf of their districts/constituents in other matters. One example would be the relocation of a major business to a particular location. Political leaders speak on behalf of those communities to the owners of the businesses and help lure them to their areas.

They also assist their citizens with other matters. Saxby Chambliss and John Barrow, for instance, assisted IHN of Athens with an issue within the past year that was something they we needed their help on and didn't require us getting any additional funding from a public source.

Can I also point out the comedic value of not only using the word 'confiscated' - as if you have little understanding of how taxation actually works - but also your entire first point ... you phrase it that public monies being appropriated to local communities (for them to determine how best to serve their citizens) is a bad thing or as if this is a problem. I'd venture to boldly claim that not only is that a terrible misguided view, but that you're also in the extreme minority with such a position.

Not that you're not aware of that or embracing that role ... being the psuedo-libertarian that you are. :)

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Stopthe BS said...

Why not use one of the web's most useful tools?

Well that worked like a charm, thank you very much.

Browsed the Augusta Chronicle while I was there and at least one Whitehead supporter was attributing the Broun victory to gay Democrats in Athens. Well, way to go boys (and girls and both).

Looking at the comments over there, its amazing what a bunch of "homers" there are. I've never gotten that sense about any of the the Athens area candidates in any race. According to several comments over there, t'aint nobody outside Columbia County and environs fit to represent the district.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Jmac said...

In a psuedo-defense of Augusta, they've had a congressman for roughly 15 to 20 years now in both Charlie Norwood and Doug Barnard, so this is new territory for a lot of their political structure ... which was reared by the former.

Still, it is misguided and misplaced fear (just as their concern over MCG is, and my uncle who actually works for MCG would tell you that as well), and until some of their leaders quit with this nonsensical (and non-existent) geographical war, it's likely remain down there.

Sadly in politics as of late, fear works.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

The question is why does our definition of "represents our local interests" amount to "will bring a bunch of centrally-gathered money into our locale"?"

Because that's what the people want. Panem et circenses.


(I'm thinking it's the density of the Kentucky air that's making you comparable.)

10:05 AM  
Blogger Polusplagchnos said...

But seriously, even a strict constructionist has to admit that the intentional design of the government of the United States was for special interests to compete with one another, not for there to be a general and noble interest that trumps all. Even balancing the political clout by utilizing both plurality (House) and equality (Senate) was meant not to settle conflict but facilitate it.

The more difficult the ability of elected officials to make alliances, the more isolated their ability to take upon power for themselves. So, by keeping alliances temporary and fragile, the people so ruled may live with virtue. It has taken these two hundred plus years to see finally for ourselves the original wisdom of those rich white dudes: when multiple people can form a unity and do so on the basis of their shared power, there will arise from their unity a singular tyrant at the moment this unity is threatened. It's the strange irony of the democracy, but we already had enough empirical evidence in just the Greek experiments alone to know this.

10:17 AM  

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