One of the problems that we have in this country is that we seem to treat elections like some kind of sporting event. We sign up for a team, and then mindlessly cheer the people on that team to victory. Frankly, elections are way too important for that. But that is exactly what is happening. If you don’t believe me, imagine what the reaction of the right wing radio jocks would be if the Democrats proposed a candidate for vice president who was an attractive woman whose experience was as the mayor of a town (that is smaller than Anderson, half the size of Red Bluff and about the size of Yreka) and a year and a half as governor of a state with a population smaller than San Francisco. Can you hear the shouts of “Feminatzi” and “Chickification” that would be coming from those worthies? But since it was the Republicans, not the Democrats who put up such a candidate, right wing radio has suddenly developed a deep concern for gender bias. Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin are not going to be carrying on the traditions of your school or your team. The winner will be making decisions that could easily make or break your future and your family’s future, and sloganeering will not make the outcome any better for you.
Don’t let the candidates lie to you just because you can take comfort in what they are saying. I find the ability of at least some of our citizens to simply accept the claims of politicians because they promise the result the citizen hopes for absolutely astonishing. Nobody likes taxes. I hate the idea that somebody is going to raise taxes because I think I pay too much now. McCain has said that he will bring us victory in Iraq, balance the budget and at least avoid raising taxes – maybe even bring them down. I can’t even tell you how I would love to believe that. Leaving aside for the moment that Sen. McCain has never defined what he means by victory in Iraq, I can’t think of any way to do the rest of what he promised. Our national debt right now is between $9 and $10 TRILLION. The interest on that debt this year will be over $500 BILLION. It is the third biggest item in the federal budget. Our annual deficit, depending on whose numbers you believe, is between $400 billion and $600 billion. We just committed another $700 BILLION to prop up our economy. Either he was simply telling us what he thought we wanted to hear without regard to the truth or he somehow has the ability to do the financial equivalent of making rivers flow uphill.
Cheering for the Republican or Democratic candidate because of party affiliation does other damage people don’t think about. It allows political bosses to create “safe districts” by moving the lines between districts around so that there is a significant majority of voters registered with one party or the other in any district. We are in such a “safe district.” As long as people vote the party line, we will have a Republican as our representative in Congress, the State Assembly and the State Senate. That means whomever is elected does not need to pay a lot of attention to us. So long as he or she follows the orders of the leadership of the Republican party, their job is safe as aces. In fact, breaking with the party bosses and voting for something that is good for the people at home, but not what the party bosses want, can end your career. Just ask Dick Dickerson
Do yourself, your kids and your grandkids a huge favor: When you step into that voting booth, base your decision on the person and what he or she represents — not on whether the person is a Republican or a Democrat. I have been a registered Democrat since I was old enough to vote. If something looks like a tossup, I’ll come down on the side of the Democrat. But if somebody is not doing the job, or if somebody is doing a very good job, how they’re registered makes no difference to me.
For a period of time the Assembly District I lived in sent a Democrat by the name of Pauline Davis to the Assembly. I never voted for Pauline. I always voted for her opponent, whoever that might be, because Pauline didn’t do anything. The only project she ever got through the legislature that benefited this district were some roadside rest stops I still call Pauline’s Privies. Don’t get me wrong. Roadside rest stops are nice, but we have other problems that she simply did not address.
Wally Herger reminds me a lot of Pauline Davis. What has Wally done that you can think of for the people of Northern California? He has been in Congress for 22 years. Because of the seniority system in Congress, that should get him a lot of horsepower. But it has not. Why? Because his colleagues do not have a lot of respect for him. Nearly the last act of his predecessor, Bizz Johnson, was to get a federal courthouse approved for Redding. If it were fully funded, we would have a division of the U.S. District Court here, just as Fresno does. That is important for several reasons. First, if you live in any of the northern counties and you are picked for jury duty in federal court, you have to go to Sacramento, day after day after day. Or you have to stay there during the trial. Second, most national corporations are residents of Delaware for tax reasons. That means that if you sue Ford or GM or Allstate Insurance or a bunch of others, the company can (and will) insist on a trial in federal court. Again, you are in Sacramento, and so are all your witnesses. All of that could be avoided by simply funding the court here. Wally has never managed to get that done. So we have a federal court here. It just does not have the capacity to do much.
We do not need a Pauline or a Wally. But as long as we vote the party line, that is what we are going to get. Think about it. Are you as tired of being taken for granted by so-called political bosses as I am? Are you ready to send them a message that they can’t take us for granted anymore?
Dugan Barr has practiced law in Redding since 1967. He has tried more than 200 civil jury cases to verdict. He is married and has five children. The offices of Barr and Mudford, LLP, are at 1824 Court St. in Redding and can be reached at 243-8008.