Righting the System

A few weeks ago, I went to a pig roast in New Hampshire organized for bloggers to get to know Rep. Paul Hodes who is running for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. As part of the gathering, Rep. Hodes gave a variation of his stump speech, citing examples of people who have not been treated fairly and his efforts to intercede on their behalf. At the end of each example, he would bring home the point by talking about how the system is upside down. I wrote a little bit about this in my blog post Representative and Participatory Democracy.

This point came home to me yesterday afternoon. Friday, I received emails from many different organizations urging me to call my congresswoman, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and urge her to support the health care reform bill. I felt very confident on how she would vote. I had heard her speak at various events promising a good health care reform bill, but I had also heard she was getting a lot of calls against the bill, and I wanted to make sure she knew that she was strongly supported in her stance. I tried calling her Washington number repeatedly, but could not get through.

Then, Saturday morning, my wife Kim and I were racking off our Oktoberfest Cider. We had brought some of our previous batches of cider to the pig roast in New Hampshire and it was well received. We were in the middle of making a new batch. The cell phone rang and my daughter Fiona ran to get it. It was a New Hampshire area code, but not my brother-in-law. Fiona didn’t get the phone in time. Kim called back and we found it was Rep. Hodes. He was calling to thank us for driving up to New Hampshire for the pig roast. I told him that I really liked his message and we chatted briefly about the importance of social media.

Now, I’ve been evolved enough in politics to understand the importance of politicians going down through their list of potential supporters and asking for support in one way or another so I kept the discussion brief. Later, however, it struck me. Here he was, in preparing for a historic vote, and he took time to call a blogger from Connecticut, two states away from his home state. I had been trying to contact my Representative and couldn’t get through, but here was a Representative two states away, commented to righting the system, who turned things around and contacted me. I kicked myself for not making comments about how important the health care vote was, but I was distracted.

Yet when I got home, I was relieved. I received an email from his Senate campaign, in which he explained why he was voting yes. “I take my responsibility to you and all Granite Staters very seriously, which is why I’ll be voting ‘Yes’. Yes for you, yes for our children, yes for real health care reform.”

More importantly, Rep. Hodes is working on righting a system that is upside down.

At one conference several weeks ago I met a voluntarist. He believed that Government should be completely voluntary, including using public resources and paying taxes. He tried to do as little of both and still be able to function in society. He disliked the libertarians, because they believed in too much government. He position was consistent. Government is the problem, so you should not vote, you should not get involved, and he did everything he could to have no involvement in the system. He believed that the system was irrevocably damaged.

Rep. Hodes, on the other hand, appears to believe that government does serve an important purpose in our lives, but that it has been turned upside down and too many people’s interests are being ignored by large businesses that support a large government friendly only to their interests. Instead of saying the government is the problem, Rep Hodes believes he can help right the system and help government be part of the solution.

I believe he can do this too.

(Cross posted at BlueHampshire.)

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