Simon FitzKit...In The Field!

Man By Your Stand

October 3, 2008
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I hate talking about politics so much. I know so precious little about the intricacies and double-binds that obviously go into every single sentence fragment uttered by the Big Dogs that I can never hope to make a rational and calm argument about anything vaguely connected to the topic.

But that’s okay because talking about politics is like that for everybody.

Imagine you and someone else are having a discussion about politics. When you’re two people who disagree about the issues, you quickly fall into snarking at one another’s failings in debate tactics and personal hygiene. When you’re two people who agree about the issues, you fellate each other’s egos until you find some tiny point you disagree on and …GOTO Line 20. (Sorry; Q-BASIC joke)

But here’s the thing I’m really sick of: calling out candidates for voting against bills about stuff they say they’re for (and vice versa). Rider clauses. Fricking rider clauses will do this argument in nearly every time; you go to vote for a bill as a whole, and people will tack on completely unrelated rider clauses to force opponents of the “main” clause to be FOR the bill as a whole (and vice versa).

But nobody thinks about rider clauses because they’re all so niggling and annoying that it’s hard to keep track of them.\

So I propose every government official open an Excel Spreadsheet right now and start a Three-Reason List: For every bill you vote(d) on, every addendum you attack(ed), every single piece of legislature that crosses/crossed your desk, you list your top 3 reasons for that decision. Then, when someone attacks your tendency to flip-flop, break out your reasons, and you won’t have to play the “Conditions had changed” Vaguery Card.

* If one of your top three reasons for voting for/against a bill is “was paid by Big Tobacco to vote that way,” you still have two reasons that you can say out loud. More importantly, it’s all in Excel, so you can Sort Data by “Reasons”; if you can’t easily count the “was paid by __________” entries, perhaps it’s time to consider some self-policing.

* Have an extra column describing what “Proposal 245a-40991z” actually was about. This will save time in the short- and long-term.

* Use the list to remind yourself of whether you were for or against the war, abortion, tax cuts and government reform. Because, let’s be honest: sometimes you just forget that kind of thing and let your aide sit in and vote for you.