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Daniel Ruth

The ripe odor of political 'reform'

Here's the problem with all this flag-waving, saluting, fife and drum democracy stuff.

Once you start making it easier for people to vote, the next thing you know people will actually start to vote. No good can come from this, especially if all those voters are voting for the other guy. And before you can say "Buddy Johnson," the aspiring pol may find himself out of a job.

What's the upside of that? Really now, democracy, the Constitution, all this naive gibberish about "the sanctity of the ballot" are only a sacred part of our society when you get to win.

So it was perfectly understandable all those Republicans engaged in the annual buffet line of the Florida Legislature would endeavor to rewrite the state's election laws to make it harder for geezers to cast a ballot, while making it easier to raise money for themselves with less accountability than a Somali pirate.

When you consider that nearly $4 million in political contributions from lobbyists and special interest groups has already made its way into Tallahassee this year, you may think of this as buying influence, access, juice. Tut-tut. This is only improved customer service.

Thus it was in recent days, the House Economic Development Council, charged with the economic development of the glad-handing class, passed a measure that would that would ban two forms of identification largely used by senior voters, while also attempting an end-run around Florida's campaign laws by permitting political action committees registered in other states to be exempt from campaign reporting guidelines.

The legislation, which will be considered by the full House today and would be the envy of Juan Peron, also would make it more difficult for third-party troublemakers to register new voters and require citizens who moved within a month of the election to only cast a provisional ballot.

Certain people, like, oh, powerful legislators for example, would be permitted to create "leadership" funds to solicit large donations from special interests and lobbyists doing business before them. You know, you can't put a price on "leadership," but something with at least four figures is a good place to start.

To be sure, there's nothing like the pungent odor of "reform," a highly technical political science euphemism for "Where's mine?"

"Reform" was in its full bicameral flower as the Senate's version of the measure easily (Warning! Spit Take Moment Ahead! Put that cup of coffee down! Now!) sailed out of the equally Republican dominated Ethics and Elections Committee.

Ethics — how amusing.

Alas, it will come as no surprise there were a few crybabies — Democrats, do-gooders, simple people who think voting is some sort of inalienable right — who somehow deluded themselves into thinking the Republicans in the Legislature were trying to undermine the outcome of elections.

It irked them that the House and Senate bills, turning the state's election laws into the Gasparilla Krewe, were being rushed to passage with less public comment than a condemned prisoner's last words.

Indeed both the House and Senate committees had limited public comment on the election law reforms with only a few minutes of citizen input. After all, this namby-pamby public comment charade is highly overrated anyway, especially when elected representatives of the people don't give a rat's patootie what the public thinks in the first place.

What were these naysayers going to kvetch about? A lot of naysaying, that's what. It all would have been a bunch of whining about how the House and the Senate were attempting to disenfranchise some old coots, undermine third party efforts and grease the wheels of influence peddling to line their own pockets with special interest — gratuities.

But the House and the Senate grifters already knew that! Why should they have to sit through hours of nagging, which only confirms the obvious? Cutting off public comment was merely a superb example of efficient governance.

Fortunately, Gov. Charlie Crist hinted he wasn't too enthralled with the Legislature's election "reform" efforts. That is another way of suggesting if this chicanery reaches his desk, it may be more dead on arrival than Sarah Palin's presidential prospects.

Gracious, you can't run around calling yourself the "People's Governor" and then sign a bill into law that treats the great unwashed body politic as if it's the poor sap who had to follow Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent.

Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who sponsored the "election reform" silliness, argued he was only trying to crack down on voter fraud. Perhaps a good place for the senator to beginning ferreting out all that supposed fraud, would be his own dubiously titled "election reform" bill.

The ripe odor of political 'reform' 04/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 24, 2009 5:53pm]
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