In a perverse way I'm enjoying the recent national debate about the immigration amnesty bill. To me it seems like one of those science fiction novels where you ask the question "What would the world be like if the whole country was run the same way that New Jersey is?" Many of the people who read this from other states will think that means more mafia run Italian restaurants and a landfill in every pot, but those things aren't really issues in New Jersey. In fact it's a really beautiful place if you can get more than 10 miles away from Newark airport, but that doesn't mean it isn't without actual problems.
The real problem in New Jersey is that the legislature and the other groups that run the government, the unions, the PAC's and the special interest groups, don't give a whit for the well being of the people. The New Jersey taxpayer is viewed as a troublesome peasant who is too stupid to make decision for themselves. The government staffers treat them like they are to be tolerated because they pay the bills, but shouldn't be involved in the decisions about how they are governed. Those things should be left to "the experts" in office and on their staff.
This attitude has had predictable results in New Jersey, and strangely, those results are very similar to what we're seeing in the immigration debate. Recently senator Trent Lott was presented with a petition signed by 3,000 or so of the voters from his district calling on him to end his support for the Amnesty bill and he responded by saying: "To think you are going to intimidate a senator, any senator, that way," and then added some mumbling about how he's not influenced by those who've urged him to change his position. Or to put that more succinctly, it seems that he is uninfluenced by his constituents who disagree with him because their disagreement proves that they are too stupid to be worthy of consideration. Man of the people I guess he ain't.
As a parallel sort of argument, the New Jersey legislature has passed a bill preventing the double office holding that's become so popular among our rulers... well it prevents most of it. According to critics of the bill it makes an exception for dual office holders who have been in place before Feb 2008. So it's a law designed to prevent something that simultaneously forgives the people already doing it. In defense of the bill the most cogent thing Senate president Codey had to say was "If they felt so strongly about it why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?"
...Stirring. Winston Churchill eat your heart out.
With any luck, one day in the future they'll put that quote on a monument to the esteemed senator which will no doubt be built by the then governor's relatives, in a no bid contract, all on the taxpayer dime. I can see it now: Here lies Richard J Codey, State Senator and Statesman. "If they felt so strongly about it why didn’t they do something about it when they had the chance?"
In both cases the lawmakers are trying to make it seem like they are doing what the people would have them do... it is their job after all. But in truth our rulers at both the national level and in the statehouse have nothing but contempt for the people who elected them, and don't have even the slightest interest in their opinion. Polling shows both amnesty and double dipping to be hugely unpopular, and instead of looking at that information as a way to connect with what the people want, our representatives look at it as proof that we're a bunch of imbeciles because we don't agree with them on it.
From my perspective their motives seem pretty clear. It seems their personal ambitions are much more important to them than the demands of their office. It's been that way in New Jersey for a long time, but now this sickness has also been transmitted to Washington as well. Maybe when it comes to contempt for the people, either Senator Lautenberg or Menendez is a carrier. Or maybe it's a genetic dysfunction that lies dormant until after you win your first election. Either way, it seems to be spreading.