Important or Impotent? 3/31/08

One thing that conservative politicians tend to do that fascinates me is their proclivity to support relatively meaningless legislation in a blatant attempt to foster the good graces of the working class. They want to show the little guy that they are on his side but cannot bring themselves to support something that would actually help them, like single payer health care or publicly financed elections, but rather find these obscure, ostensibly populist issues to champion instead. Heaven forbid they might do something that would really mean something for the people.

One shining example of this practice is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) recent sponsorship of a bill that would roll back the current bill that would phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of the more energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs for residential and commercial use. As is most often the case with these left field issues there is a modicum of truth to her contention that the mercury content of the fluorescent bulbs poses a modest health and environmental risk. Rep. Bachmann argues that folks should have the right to choose what bulbs they use and the government should not be sticking it’s ugly hand into their utility closets and bulb sockets. See, I am standing up for your right to do whatever you damn well please regardless of it’s wisdom.

When properly disposed of, the fluorescent bulbs pose little danger to anyone and the reduction of energy used by the bulbs themselves means a reduction in the amount of coal used to create that energy, which means a concurrent reduction in the measurable amounts of mercury released directly into the atmosphere by that coal burning process. Rep. Bachmann didn’t happen to mention that in her statement. Perhaps she thought it would confuse those good folk who don’t want Washington telling them what damn light bulbs to use.

A second example of this creative means of bonding with the working class was then Minnesota State Senator, Dave Kleis’ (R-MN) advocacy of making Texas Hold’um poker tournaments legal in Minnesota bars and service organization’s clubhouses. Another one of those “common sense” bills that appealed to the breakfast cafe intelligentsia of the heartland. Hell, no one is getting hurt by this friendly gambling. Why can’t the boys get together and pound a few beers and have some fun. See, I care about you guys. Why should the state tell you how to have fun. Kleis was so passionate about the issue he got a major New York newspaper to write a front page article about it.

Why did we send him to St. Paul anyway? Was it perhaps to strive to work together with other representatives from around the state to make day to day life better for hard working Central Minnesotans? I thought it was. I guess he was scared to sponsor any bills that made a real difference.

There are plenty more examples out there of this type of false populism from conservatives who, if they follow the party line, (and they ALL follow the party line) rarely if ever do anything that really helps the working class. They dream up these mostly meaningless issues to forward, like knights in shining armor, appearing to be caring, concerned public servants who work hard to reverse injustice but are actually working PR scams.

Instead of working for meaningful health care reform we get light bulb wars and instead of proper state funding of education we get good old boy poker night. The self promotion of these weak attempts to help the people is shameless. Did all of these politicians grow up admiring the circus.

Gee those elephants look cute in those outfits.

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