By Rob Roper
Rep. Zachariah Ralph (P-Hartland) just penned a remarkable op-ed, Behind the Scenes at the State House (everyone should read this), exposing the grotesque practices of the majority party leadership, detailing how they place ideology and special interests above the interests of their constituents, twisting arms to get what they want. “The game is,” says Ralph, “that you [an elected Representative] are first loyal to your party and leadership, second to your committee, and only after these institutions are appeased, can you be loyal to the people that elected you.”
For those of us who have spent time in Montpelier, this is not a surprise. (For years the majority leader of the House would post a sign, Yes/No, on his or her desk during a vote telling their caucus how to vote. Woe betide anyone who crossed the sign, as Rep. Ralph illustrates in some powerful anecdotes.) The surprise is that an elected official has finally and baldly called Vermonters’ attention to this despicable practice. Good for Rep. Ralph.
But, when you dig into Ralph’s article, he is frustrated that party leadership thinks it knows what’s best regardless of what constituents might think or want, and places their own priorities, often driven by special interests, at the forefront. Other ideas and priorities, such as Ralph’s, are tossed into the waste bin as unworthy. What Ralph thinks though is that he, not they, knows best.
Neither is correct. We the people know best, and we should be left alone to make decisions and act on them free from corruptible influence of the process Ralph so eloquently describes.
Ralph’s article precisely illustrates why we should not give to government power and money in the first place. It is why the bedrock of our founding rests on limited government — because the really big decisions (as well as the small ones) in people’s lives should not be left to this inherently corruptible process.
Real democracy, the true will of the people, lies not in the political process. It exists most effectively in the free market where free people are able to make decisions for themselves – what kinds of cars to drive, what kind of energy to purchase, what kind of bags to carry our groceries in, etc. and so on. Government is, by its nature, always the instrument of special interests. Limit its power and scope, and you limit the power of special interests.
The collective actions of individuals pursuing happiness on their own and in association with like-minded citizens will far better reflect the true will and interests of the people and will lead to greater and broader prosperity.
So, while I am grateful to Rep. Ralph for his exposé, at the end of the day I don’t want him making decisions for me and my family any more than I want Mitzi Johnson, Tim Ashe, Jill Krowinski, Becca Balint or any of the lot making those decisions. If they truly want to put their constituents first, they will agree, and leave us alone.