OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Tuesday, March 22, 2005 :::

Two Tales from the Kilgore Kickoff

One the one hand, we have John's first-hand account of the Kilgore event -- with pictures, too! -- that gives a sense of the crowd, the mood and the feeling. Once upon a time, it would have been the kind of piece we could have regularly read in the newspaper. Not because of its slant (it's no secret where JB's loyalty lies), but because his words breathe...they move...they give us the sense of what it was like to be there with him at the event.

Contrast this with the pinched prose of "Good Copy" Shapiro in Today's TD. "Short on details." "Avoiding references." "Republican infighting." Leaden phrases dot Shapiro's copy from stem to stern. And what would a "Good Copy" piece be without a reference to Russ Potts? He makes a cameo here, too. After reading the two takes, I wonder if they were actually at the same event.

No matter. It's a great start...particularly because Kilgore comes out of the gate with a tax proposal that is sure to get the tongues of pundits great and small wagging non-stop throughout the campaign: voter approval of tax increases.

The idea was floated, briefly, toward the end of the tax fight in the 2004 session. Tim Kaine dismissed it, John Chichester dismissed it, and so did almost everyone else with a vested interest in the status quo.

But as my friend John Taylor wrote when the idea first surfaced last year:

But seriously, why the strong opposition to a referendum on taxes? Well, several reasons, actually. For one, the political class despises referendums and their close cousins, initiatives, because they take political power out of the hands of the elected few, and place it squarely in the hands of the people. Referenda don't merely allow the people to second-guess politicians, they give the people the ability to overrule politicians. And for any elected official who has grown used to the deference and coddling of lobbyists, and assorted sycophants, being overruled by the masses is a direct, personal rebuke that's second only to being defeated for re-election.

Yes it is. John and I fought many initiative campaigns together back in the day. We tended to win a no small part because the political class seemed to go out of its way to demean, insult and deride the public's ability to decide matters for themselves.

Kilgore will take a lot of flack for this idea in the months ahead. But it's a fight worth having...and it's one that's long overdue.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 3/22/2005 1 comments


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