A Picture of Political Intolerance

Free speech in the form of streetside signage apparently didn’t mean much to the opponents of these candidates:

(Picture taken 26 October 2014. Click to enlarge.)

If you know the party affiliations of Renee Ellmers and Nelson Dollar, then you should be able to guess what candidate’s sign is crumpled up in the upper right. I’ll give you three guesses, but you probably won’t need them.*

These signs had been on Cary Parkway, right at the end of our street. Last night while we were walking the dog, I noticed them thrown into the bushes. I took the picture early this morning.

I get it, if you don’t like the little yard signs that pop up like dandelions every election season. I don’t particularly like them, either.

But if your idea of political activism is to interfere with the free speech of your political opponents, then you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

*Ellmers and Dollar are Republicans, if that helps.

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One Week Until the Election Filing Period Opens …

Maybe it’s the flu talking, but once again I’m thinking about whether I’d like to run for office. (Seriously.) (Okay, sort-of seriously.)

Hope is a belief in a positive outcome...
(“Hope is a belief in a positive outcome…,” by Vince Alongi, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

It would be interesting to see if my unconventional approach to politics — from the Anti-Campaign to my political anthem — would generate any interest in an actual election. To get on the primary ballot, I’d have to sign up and pay money before the end of February.

The filing fee is one percent of the annual salary of whatever office you seek, so I would need to decide whether I should try to serve at the local level or the state level or the national level. From my time in the USAF, and especially my work on the Air Staff, I’m most familiar with how things work at the national level. And, as proof of my arrogance and megalomania, I think I would be as fine a member of Congress as anyone. On the other hand, all politics is local and serving at the local level would have its own set of challenges and rewards. And it would cost a lot less to file.

Of course, if I did file, I’d have to actually campaign — and that takes time and money, too, neither of which I have in abundance. Which is why I wrote,

I’d like to run for Congress, and play the political game
But I don’t have very much money, to wage a big campaign
I’m okay with giving speeches and debating might be fun
If I took myself more seriously, then I might really run

— “I Think I’ll Run for Congress

So the driving factor in whether I should file and run for office has to be whether anybody wants me to — and wants it enough to help organize, fund, and execute a campaign.

What about it, local folks? Any interest in working on a political campaign?

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Vote for Gray! (The Anti-Candidate Lives)

After much soul-searching and “counting the cost,” I have decided NOT to file as a candidate for the 2010 election primary. (Today is the deadline.) Instead, I will continue making snide observations about the candidates and the process, and as the Anti-Candidate I remain available for any write-in votes you want to cast.

(East view of the U.S. Capitol. U.S. Government photo. Click to enlarge.)

I received a lot of encouragement from folks, and I appreciate everyone’s confidence and general enthusiasm. I especially appreciate the offers of office space and other support. Maybe next time….

I made the decision based on four practical considerations. First, I don’t have any spare time to devote to the actual work of campaigning, not while I’m working two jobs and spending most of my off hours on church matters. Second, I haven’t built an organization capable of running a campaign, spreading the word, and getting out the vote. Third, owing to the lack of an organization, I don’t have any campaign funds to pay for things like the campaign filing fee. And finally, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of candidates already in position, each of whom has more time, more of an organization, and more money than I do. So, from a practical standpoint, it made sense to sit this one out.

Some folks really seem to want me to run for office, and maybe one day I will. In the meantime, if you want to get an idea of where I stand on the issues, I’ll let you know as soon as I figure that out. (Actually, I’ve posted some issue-related ramblings on the Anti-Campaign pages.)

And if you don’t like the choices set before you on election day (or primary day), and can’t decide which one(s) you should vote against, feel free to vote against all of them by writing in my name!

(I’m Gray Rinehart, and I approved this message.)

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If I Were My Own Representative, Part IV: My Touchstone for Voting

A lot of legislation is pitched on the basis of what it is intended to do, and often on the basis of whom it is intended to help. If I Were My Own Representative, my touchstone for voting would be quite the opposite: whom it was likely to hurt.

(U.S. Capitol dome, from the Architect of the Capitol. Click to enlarge.)

My initial position would be to vote “no” on any bill that had a provision that would hurt some of our citizens, even if it helped some others. I would have to be convinced that the help was worth the hurt; i.e., that the hurt was along the lines as the necessary pain of surgery to correct a life-threatening condition.

If it wasn’t clear what effects some given legislation would have, whether it would hurt some people while helping some others, I would at least ASK. If no one could tell me, again my initial thought would be to vote against it.

Note that I’ve qualified the “help/hurt” question in terms of our citizens, because they should be first priority. We may enact legislation that helps others — especially where our relative wealth can help those in dire need — but not necessarily at the expense of hurting our own people.

When it comes to legislation with the potential to hurt others, the question has an added dimension: whether those others are allies or enemies. It’s unrealistic to believe that we have no enemies, and I think the Romans 12:18 standard applies to international relations: if possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all people. But we need to be pragmatic when it comes to potential conflict, and it would be irresponsible to fail to provide for organizing, training, and equipping the military forces that defend us.

Why is this a big deal? Maybe it’s not. But I don’t want my Representatives to pass legislation that hurts me or my friends, so I wouldn’t want to vote for legislation that would hurt people.

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If I Were My Own Representative, Part III: Hearings and Caucuses

I’ve been to a Congressional hearing, watched a few more on TV, and prepared testimony for several. Hearings, in general, are effective for Congress to gather information so it can evaluate alternatives and exercise its oversight. But some of the hearings seem trivial, either in their subject matter or their treatment, and become little more than media events for grandstanding by elected officials and witnesses.

If I Were My Own Representative, I could go to hearings on trivial subjects and ask, “Why are we having this hearing? Don’t we have better things to do?” Better things like debating big, substantive issues; reconciling or voting on bills; or even crafting our own legislation so lobbyists wouldn’t have to?

Not all hearings are on trivial subjects, of course, but they aren’t all on matters of great importance to the state, either. And even the ones I think are trivial are obviously important to somebody.* Why, I don’t know … hence, the question I’d like to ask.

Would it be rude to ask the question? Oh, yeah. And not exactly politically astute: I presume nobody questions whether a given hearing is trivial in order not to offend their fellows. If I did that, they might not want to attend my trivial hearings. As quid-pro-quo goes, that’s probably pretty harmless. But it’s not as fun.

As for caucuses — of which, like committees and hearings, there are probably more than necessary — I’d definitely join the Air Force Caucus. I don’t know if any other caucuses would have me!

*For example: A subject I consider trivial, like steroids in sports, you might consider of paramount importance to the survival of our democratic republic. To each, his own.

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