Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Perhaps you'd be more comfortable in a different form of government

For those of you locals, you've probably read about or heard about the state of the voting rights bill in the House last week. I won't get into the entire discussion, but in case you missed it, you absolutely must see the comments from Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) that he made on the floor while debating the merits of voting rights in the House for District residents.

This is what he said: "I would submit to you that Washington, D.C. is also the only city in the entire country that every Senator and every Member of Congress has a vested interest in seeing that it works properly; that water works, sewer works, and and no other city in America has that."

Before I get into the absolute idiocy of what he said, you've gotta read what happened as a result of DCIst picking up the story, which made the Washington Post just the next day. First of all, CSPAN misidentified Gohmert as Charles Boustany from La. So as you can read from the DCist story, since Boustany/Gohmert had claimed that the District didn't need representation because we have 535 elected officials looking out for us, DCist urged everyone to send all of their requests and problems directly to his office.

After all, he claims to be our representative, right?

So after Boustany got flooded with calls, DCist corrected CSPAN's error and directed all of the letters, calls, faxes, and emails to Louie Gohmert. Just sheer utter hilarity is what it is. Well, at least until you really examine what Gohmert is claiming.

Now, I haven't studied politics other than my Civics class in high school and one Poli Sci class in college, but I'm pretty sure that Louie has some serious misunderstandings about how our republican and representative system of government works. He claims that we don't need our own representative because we already have 535 people with a vested interest in the District.

Excuse me, Louie? Did you get to be representative from Texas by just walking into Washington and saying, "well, I'm from there, so I"ll represent those people." No, you got ELECTED. Let me say that again in case you're hard of hearing.

You got ELECTED. That's how things work in America. You don't get to just speak up and say you'll "serve" as our representative. Those who govern do so at the consent of the governed. And no one in the District gave you their consent.

Let me give a ludicrous example that could never happen to prove my point: (Kind of like how ludicrous it would be for 650,000 people in the District to be taxed but not represented — TOTALLY and ridiculously unbelievable, right?)

It would be akin to the city of Richmond, Virginia not getting a representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, or a vote for the Virginia Senate. And then, when the lawmakers come to Richmond to do state business and the Richmonders are agitated because they're not represented, Rep. Joe Smith from Marion just pipes up and says, "I would submit to you that Richmond is the only city in the entire state where every Delegate and every Senator has a vested interest in seeing that it works properly."

Is there something disturbing to anyone else about an elected U.S. Congressman suggesting that we don't need a representative because some people in Texas sent him here, he and some other folks live here 200 days a year, and therfore he and the rest of Congress should just be our de facto representatives?

I would sincerely hope that for the sake of the first district of Texas, that Rep. Gohmert understands our political system and form of government a little better than he has demonstrated thus far.

And for your viewing enjoyment, I present you the new banner for his homepage that DCist created. And in case you're wondering, you can reach the new representative for the District of Columbia at 202-225-3035 and at 510 in the Cannon House Office Building.

graphic from DCist

I'll leave you with a poignant comment that the Bride heard someone say the other day: If the voting rights bill passes, and Bush uses the veto to strike it down, it will be ironic that his legacy will be an attempt to preserve democracy and freedom in countries all around the globe, while at home working to ensure the continued disenfranchisement of District residents.