Accountable governance…

Published 10:06 am Friday, June 16, 2017

By TJ Ray

A better moniker for this process may be possible, but until the nether world freezes over this one will have to do.

Growing up, kids are often called to account for their actions. For instance, schools are not happy to find panties raised on their flagpoles. Thus, some suspects visit with the principal, who decides their fate.

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In the military sloppy bunks and dirty weapons often result in a confession to the gunnery sergeant. In corporations, CEO’s and other types are regularly called to account for poor earnings in a quarter, the board of directors having no use for excuses.

But one group of citizens have almost no accounting to do. Oh, yes, they may face reelection every few years, but by that time many voters will have forgotten the very questionable or ill-informed votes they had cast.

Thus we come to a new wrinkle in running a state or a country. It might be termed a tweaking of the system, as that term is so popular. Instead of waiting till an elected person’s term is up why not have an accounting at the end of each session? How to do it?  Very simple!

For the sake of this proposal, let us focus on senators and representatives.

Each of these individuals represents a district. Somewhere in every district is a facility large enough to seat all the voters in that jurisdiction — even if it’s a football stadium. As each voter enters, he is handed a list of all the votes his elected official cast in the previous session. A moderator might read the list, giving the politician time to explain to the crowd why he voted to close mental health clinics or stop some project in the local public school.

Perhaps as the accounting goes on the folks directly affected by a given vote might be asked to stand. One of our problems is that the chasm between elected people and average citizens is humongous, almost like one galaxy whizzing by another. They don’t usually touch.

Though it is likely that none of them would show up, invitations to the public forum could be sent to representatives of those special interest groups that were blessed with all the tax relief they got from the legislature or Congress. Would the officials of the new tire plant in the state want to face the family of a bipolar child who can no longer get medical help?

Some elected people don’t have districts — they have the whole State. One might hold their accounting sessions in the big stadium in Jackson.

It would only be equitable to allow the elected person an opportunity to speak. One of the questions that might be asked is “How many bills did you introduce?”

As town hall meetings are popular these days, accountable governance is already launched!

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.