A Good Day for Democracy
He reminded us that we are talking about the document that preserves our freedoms, the source of our essential right to an education. Should the legislature reasonably weigh the importance of that right, or should it stand resolutely behind it?
He asked us to consider, if John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson were in a pub and some Tories came in and they said "let's be reasonable", would we have gained our independence from the King of England today?
The fight over the constitutional amendment has been marked with intense political pressure. As it became apparent that this amendment would divide the caucus, a slew of - often conflicting - talking points were trained at members of the legislature, both individually and as a mass. A group consensus was attempted in a disorganized approach using increasingly desperate policy excuses and political ramifications. The result was a compromised position, bankrupted of steadfast principles, steeped in an broth of expedience.
Andy Peterson left us with advice that has proven its virtue through thousands of years of human civilization, and even still today addresses the greater assault on reason that has become the primary threat to the survival of our democracy:
Search your heart, with neither fear nor favor, without regard to politics but to our basic liberties
I did not intend on taking notes during the floor "debate" today, but I used this to justify my excuse as to why I won't make up my mind until I've listened to the speakers in the House chamber. While I had already made up my mind the night before as to how I was voting, my pitch to those who would attempt to pressure me was simple:
How can anyone believe that they have the authority to amend the Constitution, when they don't even respect the constitutional process and give this important issue due diligence; by making their decision only after participating in the truest form of democracy as it was intended: debate on the floor of the House.
Well I actually did this today, even if it began only as a gesture, but what I found was that the man who sits in the seat in front of me articulated my feelings perfectly and stood up honorably for principle, not politics.
The Rule of Reason
We've all grown so accustomed to politic outcomes being predetermined, with the real debate being conducted behind closed doors, with arguments being presented in a climate devoid of public scrutiny or any accountability to them.
The politics of fear are devastating our country. It's not something that Bush invented, and it's not something that only goes on in Washington D.C.
I've been pressured really hard in the past 24 hours. They've thrown everything but the kitchen sink at us. We've gone from dishonest policy explanations to empty political threats. Judicial interpretations based on hearsay to secret financial assurances. Rewriting history to "the end of the world". "We don't play politics with the constitution" to "let the people decide".
There is no longer any rational debate. We're being told that amending the constitution is a simple and trivial task. When the process must be respected, their policy is invincible. When we find holes in the policy, the important thing is that we pass something. If we don't pass something, there will be disastrous political consequences. If we don't share those political consequences with them, they threaten us with retribution.
The ultimate problem, however, isn't even with the merits of these arguments. Whether they be rooted in policy or politics, there are bound to be a few that have some truth in them. The problem is that the decision making process is backwards. These arguments weren't presented and discussed, resulting in a logical conclusion. The answer is decided upon, and we are then given a progression of weak excuses and reasons as to why the answer is right, after the fact.
First the verdict, then the trial.
I'm voting no. If we aren't going to follow the rule of reason - the foundation of our constitutional process - then there is no moral basis for us to lay our hands upon the Constitution.
Another Exciting Day
Woke up early and Jeff and I drove to the White Mountains, which looks amazing in spring! Got to Cannon Mountain and took the Tram to the top with Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. Met a Draft Gore accomplice of ours and helped out as he collected petition signatures and interviewed with WBUR about getting Gore to run for President.
Met with our Congressman, Paul Hodes, and got to really talk with him about stuff for the first time (he still doesn't remember us after meeting 10 times).
We sat and watched the 2 hour long Global Warming Summit of the House Select Committee on Global Warming.
It was our first time seeing a Congressional hearing in real life... it was awesome. Got to see Rep. James "Fat-cat Republican" Sensenbrenner try his hardest to disprove Global Warming to the expert panel of scientists. Money from Big Oil can do that to you.
We got to talk with all sorts of environmental activists (and Gore supporters) afterwards. Also had a strategizing session with our new partner in creating Draft Gore NH, who we luckily ran into at the summit.
We had to hurry back into the tram to get down the mountain because of the 40 knot winds. It was a bumpy ride down but we didn't even notice because we were standing next to Congressman Ed Markey from Massachusetts, the committee's chairman. This guy was awesome, and he got a kick out of my Al Gore '08 button. He was the friendliest, most down to earth guy - can't wait until he replaces John Kerry as Senator some day..
We had a long drive home through the rain, stopped off in Concord to collect our mileage for the day.
Had to have a Nashua Delegation caucus at Rep. Bette Lasky's house back in Nashua. It was ridiculous. We just listened to Democratic leadership tool on us for an hour and a half, trying to whip us all into voting for this god-awful Constitutional Amendment. My mind wasn't made up on it, and I ended up getting into a bit of a confrontation over it.
They are constantly telling us, "Jeff and Andy, it's so good to have you up at the state house, you're so sharp" and "nothing gets by you!". Well don't be surprised when we actually call you on your bullshit! This is the stupidest political embroilment I've been in so far.
Principles or politics? I only have two more days to choose...