And Thus it Begins...
So the first question posed to me virtually everytime I told somebody that I was going to start a blog was, "Why in the hell would you want to do that for?" Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the right question to ask. First off, it's so much easier not to do this. Secondly, those who know me are acutely aware that I have a strong tendency to speak my mind, even if it is not the most politically expedient thing for me to do. I think it was the second issue that caused the most concern to my friends. Start a blog, they said, and you will inevitably write something that will be thrown back at you in the future. And that concept may in fact hold the very answer to their initial question. I'll get to that in a minute.
I've decided to undertake this endeavor for a number of reasons. First, I wanted someplace to express my thoughts and ideas on a wide range of issues involving politics, policy and the legislative process. More specifically, how the three items intersect and what happens when they don't. Second, I wanted to provide people with a open forum in which they can exchange thoughts with an elected official and hopefully provide readers with a unique perspective on various current events that affect all of us. Maybe most importantly, I wanted to take a step to take down the unnecessary barriers that appear to often exist between electeds and the electorate.
It is easy for public officials to talk about open government, but there still seems to exist an ironic disconnect between government and the people whom it is created to serve. I want to take a step toward repairing that disconnect that no elected official to date has yet to take. Granted it's a singular step, but hey, at least it's a start.
That gets me back to what I was talking about before. It is natural, and actually smart, for all of us to choose our words carefully before we express ourselves. But once you do say something, especially in the public arena, you essentially need to either stand behind it or admit you were wrong. I did that at the end of session when I went on a morning television talk show and apologized for my vote on the pension sweep. (An issue which will come back to bite us on our rear ends in the future, and one that I will probably write about at some point in time.) And while my apology was driven by personal and not political reasons, the aftermath was fascinating. I was contacted by countless people who told me that they strongly disagreed with my vote, but were willing to overlook it because it was so refreshing to hear an honest discussion of the matter. Now, while I don't recommend the exercise as one that should become pattern and practice for anyone, I think that elected officials could learn a lesson from my experience.
People do not expect their electeds to be perfect people, rather they expect them to reflect their views, to work hard, and BE STRAIGHTFORWARD with them. The lines between elected officials and their constituents function best when they are horizontal not vertical. Simply put, we need to speak WITH our constituents as neighbors, not TO them as children. Elected officials often make hard decisions for a variety of reasons, good and bad. Voters can understand this and they can also understand when they are being fed a load of bull. This blog is my way of putting up or shutting up. And yes, I know that there are those that would prefer that I do the latter, but I think that the time has come to step up, encourage some thought-provoking discussion, and listen to the views of those that care to share them here.
So at the end of this initial long premise, where are we at? While I have great hopes for this endeavor, I am simultaneously very realistic that it has the potential to go the way of the Tucker Torpedo. Unable to avoid the trite cliche, the whole of this site can truly be greater than the sum of its parts. That is to say, with a little quality input by a critical mass of people, this can turn into an (almost) self-sufficient entity that vacillates between think-tank and water cooler and barbershop. If, on the other hand, there is not enough interest to sustain this enterprise, than it will devolve into a home for my occasional musings and rants, which will doubtless be a lonely home indeed.
It is my hope to build momentum from now until session, at which time I hope to provide current thoughts and commentary on General Assembly proceedings from ground zero, and to elicit feedback from those affected by our actions in the Capitol. Only time will tell...
Let me set out some of the Dome-icile House Rules. 1) Obviously, I do not presume to speak for anybody other than myself. 2) Anything posted under my name will have been written by me. 3) I will strive to present issues that can be debated and discussed by my readers (assuming there are any). 4) Opposing views will be treated with respect, unless I am absolutely sure that I am right and you are wrong :) 5) Personal attacks on anybody will not be tolerated.
Seriously, I want this to be a place that can be simultaneously informal and intelligent. I also really want this to be a place where people can drop in, read some interesting things and maybe share their two cents worth. I hope that people will respect what I am trying to do here and try to make this experiment a better one rather than try to detract from it. I believe that if this works, it may bring other public officials into the realm of increased communication, and that would be better for everybody.
Welcome to Dome-icile. I hope that you enjoy your visits.