Tuesday, December 15, 2009


You have ten legislators in a room; four Republicans and six Democrats. How many political agendas are represented?

At least seven. While the Republicans will have one between them, the Democrats are lucky if they only have one each.
Of course, the Republicans have managed this feat by being remarkably disciplined. But there's another part of it - the rightmost-leaning members of the party have cultivated (or, depending on who you ask, have had foisted upon them) a constituency that not only supports and expects a rigid political orthodoxy (and orthopraxy) but demands it - as evidenced most recently by the case of California Assembly member Anthony Adams. Assemblyman Adams' sin: "an aye vote for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2009-2010 state budget, which included about $12.5 billion in tax increases [...]." This bit of political pragmatism promptly detonated in his face.
Adams received anonymous death threats, prompting the state Highway Patrol to provide him and his wife with around-the-clock protection for three days.
Now, given the penchant for members of the public to toss of death threats like confetti (especially when the speed and anonymity of the internet means that it's easy to do on an impulse, and unlikely to result in jail time), the overall short amount of time that his family had police protection seems warranted - but still - death threats?

"Conservatives" (I have a hard time thinking of people who hide behind anonymity to threaten people as being Conservative in any positive sense of the word) who are upset at Adams have trotted out an old epithet to describe him: Betrayer. When he'd run for office in 2006, one of the things that had impressed conservative voters was his willingness to sign a pledge to oppose any tax increases. But like other politicians who made publicly pledging opposition to taxes a central part of their platforms (President George H. W. Bush and Washington Governor Christine Gregiore come to mind) Adams was making a blind bet on the future - and in the end, he lost. Going on the record as refusing to raise taxes in the future is to publicly declare that at no point during one's political tenure will a new tax be needed. You may as well command the ocean to stay off the beaches.

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