Proud vote for Jim Martin
The 2006 midterm election cycle is certainly shaping up to be one of the most negative, dismal, depressing and uninspiring of any in recent memory.
It features a bumper crop of two-faced, lying, backstabbing hypocrites competing to be viewed as the most conservative and military-friendly.
It is breeding bigtime apathy and disillusionment.
Fortunately, there is one very rare public servant running for the office of Lieutenant Governor who is an inspiration for all of us who believe in truly progressive ideals of fairness, compassion, inclusion and equality for all people.
Jim Martin served with great distinction for 18 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, where he led the fight to protect individual liberties and stand up for the rights of seniors, the disabled, the mentally ill and minorities of all stripes and colors.
When the AIDS epidemic broke out in the ‘80s, Jim was the first legislator to break the silence of his peers and demand that this state address the needs of those afflicted with HIV and AIDS. To ensure that all Georgians have the right to decide who may make health decisions on their behalf should they become incapacitated, he authored and passed the legislation that created our state’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.
As chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, Jim fought to pass hate crime legislation that includes sexual orientation as a protected category.
Indeed, Jim Martin has been bravely walking the walk, not just talking the talk, throughout his adult life.
On Nov. 7, I will appreciatively, enthusiastically and proudly cast my vote for Democrat Jim Martin for Georgia Lieutenant Governor.
Kevin L. Clark
Congress adds to distrust
Back in August, a House subcommittee chairman held a field hearing in Georgia to inquire into the cost to American workers of illegal immigration. Hispanic groups noticed that the only people testifying were immigration hard-liners, so they complained. The chairman didn’t care.
“What I wanted was witnesses who agree with me, not disagree with me,” he said.
That comment pretty much summed up what those hearings were about: public relations. They were held to advance a particular agenda.
Unfortunately, this is now the norm in Congress, not the exception. In most cases these days, the congressional hearing has become a highly political exercise, part of a battle for the hearts and minds of Americans. They are no longer what they should be: a group of policy-makers openly and objectively delving into problems or seeking the best public policy solution to a difficult challenge.
Maybe this shouldn’t matter. Americans, after all, seem increasingly drawn to blogs, cable news channels, books, and magazines that reflect their own ideological leanings. Why shouldn’t Congress?
Well, for one thing, the canned nature of congressional hearings makes them less useful to members themselves, which may explain why the number of hearings has dropped dramatically in recent years. Also, turning committee hearings into exercises in spin undercuts their purpose; it weakens the entire committee system on which Congress rests by turning it into a public relations apparatus, not a means of searching for the facts needed to build legislation or understand policy options.
But perhaps the greatest cost has come in public distrust. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more cynical, angry, and disaffected citizenry. There are a lot of reasons for Congress` low standing in the public opinion polls, but surely one of them is that Americans are tired of politicians who seem more interested in propagandizing than in listening and learning.
Director, Center on Congress, Indiana University
Former member, U.S. House of Representatives
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