The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

B. Thomas Marking deserves respect.

Several posts ago, we gave links to and quotes from announced candidates for So. Dak.'s US House seat (now occupied by Ms. Herseth Sandlin). We (meaning me, Newland, in this case) neglected to include Mr. Marking, whom we knew but forgot had announced last fall. Recently, Mr. Marking sent a letter to a number of media outlets. The following paragraph is an excerpt from it.

I am B. Thomas Marking, South Dakota's Independent Candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives. I announced my candidacy in November 2009 and I am in this race all the way to next November, whether the television stations, newspapers, and bloggers in this state choose to acknowledge it or not. I have people working hard all across this state on collecting the outrageous 3400 signatures required to get on the ballot.

Marking has a website. On it he lists some goals.

1. Within 90 days of being sworn in, my staff will set up a secure computer system and register all interested South Dakota voters, so they can begin casting ballots on national policy issues (domestic and foreign). The majority decisions of these referenda will dictate my voting on bills brought to the floor of the House.

2. These principles will be applied to any legislation that I author, endorse, or review:
> It will expire or be reviewed by a specified date or event
> It will be based on hard evidence of need
> Tangible benefits must be greater than the realistic costs
> Dependable long-term funding must be assured
> No unrelated addendums are attached
> The rights and responsibilities of individual Citizens are not usurped
> The rights and responsibilities of state and local governments are preserved

3. If I'm sent back to Washington, I vow to shine a strong spotlight on any action born of assumed political privilege, any action that violates good program management, and any action that demonstrates disrespect for the rights and innate intelligence of the American Citizen.

Be aware that I've only excerpted from Marking's pages. Anybody care to remark on the campaign's style, substance, chances?


Thad Wasson said...

Any reason why the Independant needs 3400 signatures instead of just 1% of those Independants that voted for governor in 2008?

I agree with Marking, that is an outrageous amount to collect. There is no reason to hold parties other than Republican and Democrat to differant standards.

caheidelberger said...

I appreciate Marking's principles, and I'm all over his desire to put the Internet to work for real e-democracy. Still, his resistance to enunciating specific policy positions makes me uneasy. He sounds a bit too much like some of the 9-12 project people I know, who get really excited about talking abstract principles, largely because they haven't studied deeply enough to really delve into practical policy issues.

I also worry that he takes too passive a view of the role of a politician and representative. A statesman is not just a conduit for the momentary whim of 50%+1 of the folks willing to click a mouse. A statesman has a duty to lead public conversation on important issues. Leading the conversation about increased transparency and e-democracy is enough... but I'm afraid we need more. We need a statesman who won't just blindly say "What do you think?" but who can synthesize what he thinks with what we think and sometimes make the effort to lead us to think something else (even the masses can be wrong).

Thad, the two major parties made that rule for Independents. It's all about maintaining their duopoly. (Oops -- I'm a Dem, so I guess it's part of my duopoly. Dang.)

Anonymous said...

I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t. Indepedent.

Bob Newland said...

Riiiiight, Anon.

Anonymous said...

you understood the point, Boooob. So I missed the 'n'. In-de-pen-dent.

B. T. said...

To: caheidelberger

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Isn't is sad that people have a difficult time grasping the idea of being given a real voice on issues? Subservience is a hard habit to break.

I will, of course, lead the public conversation, giving my fellow South Dakotans the best impartial intelligence I can gather from my vantage point in D.C. I also feel I have the Washington experience to provide wise counsel.

However, I'm sure you can appreciate that the instant I violate my vow to abide by the public decision, I will have surrendered my honor and my integrity. If I'm to sell this concept, people need to be certain that will never happen.

Yes - the "masses" will no doubt make mistakes. Then they will learn from them and correct them and become better citizens. Did you learn to drive a car by watching from the back seat?

Bill Fleming said...

So, Mr. Marking, would you characterize yourself as advocating for "direct democracy" at least as it pertains to the House of Representatives? i.e. if the technology were in place, we could eliminate the House altogether and just let the people vote?

I think people are looking for specific ways you would provide leadership. Perhaps if you chose an issue... say jobs creation or health care.

If the majority of South Dakotans said they wanted an extension of Medicare or a Public Option, would you advocate for it? And if so, how and how hard would you fight?