web counter Media Lies: And they wonder why we despise them

Sunday, December 05, 2004

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And they wonder why we despise them

Americans seldom find a politician that they like (except for their own), and politicians are generally mistrusted and held in low esteem. Is this fair? If this story in the Dallas Morning News is any indication, Americans have good reason to mistrust politicians.
Rep. Larry Evans died Aug. 7, 1991.

Later that day, though, Evans, a Houston Democrat, was recorded as voting three times on the Texas House floor - presumably because colleagues pushed the vote buttons on his desk.
It isn't difficult to do, because the voting buttons are not monitored.
House members' desks have buttons that can usually be punched by anyone within reaching distance during non-voice votes - green for "yes," red for "no" or white to take no position.
It is therefore no surprise that this behavior is routine.
"It does happen," said first-term Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola. "I guess it developed because it's practical."
People who are involved in politics have all sorts of justifications.
Bob Kelly, who stepped down after 22 years as House parliamentarian in 2000, said the "courtesy" of members voting for each other reflects the demands on legislators to leave their desks to meet constituents and lobbyists.

Kelly, now a lobbyist, said that "having a record on every vote taken isn't ever going to stop that. I don't see why it needs to."
This inability to see what is plainly obvious to private citizens is a symptom of a much larger malady - a disrespect for the process.

Texas legislators are in session for four months every other year. Yet some find the job so demanding that they can't seem to make it to the floor for votes.
Felton West, a retired reporter for The Houston Post, recalled that in the 1970s a member was shown as voting while vacationing at a Mexican seaside resort. "There's nothing to discourage it unless somebody is just watching it all the time," West said.
Could there possibly be a greater insult to voters than to not only skip sessions but go on vacation during a session? Yet those involved in politics see nothing at all wrong with this.

That's precisely what the problem is.