State Rep. Lewis Moore, an Arcadia Republican, has publicly weighed in on the overall concept of democracy and finds that, well, it really “means socialism.”
Actually, I’m still trying to figure out what Moore is exactly trying to say in a short philosophical missive he apparently released to some media outlets in recent days. In particular, I wonder about this part of a post titled “Lewis Moore: Our Republic Is Not A Democracy” that appeared on The McCarville Report blog:
The fight is a constant one. When you hear “democracy,” you should think majority-rules versus the rule-of-law. It’s like an Old West posse of 15 riders catching up with a horse thief. A 14-1 decision finds the thief hanging from the nearest tree – majority rules. This in contrast with a 14-1 decision where the Sheriff is holding out for justice and wants the thief hauled back to town, enforcing the rule-of-law.
In short, democracy means socialism, which leads to debt and chaos, and will ultimately usher in an oligarchy (dictator). Never trade liberty for security.
Okay, read that a few times. So is Moore, pictured right, trying to say that democracy means no rule of law, which leads to socialism and that the Sheriff is right to enforce the rule of law? Seriously, what’s the logic here? The rule of law is a vital component of democracy. People vote for laws and elect politicians who vote for laws. There is no clear or set oppositional dichotomy or binary between “majority rules” and “rule of law” when it comes to democracy. They are inextricably linked. They are sometimes in opposition, such as when a court strikes down a law voted for by a majority of a legislature, but not always. It’s a dynamic; it’s fluid.
But the leap from democracy to socialism right after the phrase “in short” is the real head scratcher. Moore certainly hasn’t proven to me through his “Old West” scenario that “democracy means socialism” whether it’s “in short” or in any other manner. Are the posse members voting to hang the horse thief actually socialists? It doesn’t follow. How will that then exactly lead to “debt” and “chaos” and then an oligarchy? Shouldn’t there be more evidence for this huge claim?
I’m unsure if Moore is writing in some type of right-wing code I can’t decipher, but I just don’t follow it. I understand the arguments that the United States is a constitutional republic. Some people even suggest that means our country isn’t also a democracy, even though it’s obviously steeped in democratic principles. Is Moore trying to argue along these lines? He ends the segment this way: “Never trade liberty for security.” How does that relate back to the posse and the Sheriff? Which one represents liberty? Which one represents security? It’s highly problematic on a logical level.
Moore’s entire reference to horse thievery and the Sheriff then eventually seems irrelevant to his overall arguments about states’ rights. And guess what? Moore is in favor of them, and he thinks Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators should each have an office at the state Capitol, arguing “Their loyalty is to the state, first and foremost!” (That’s Moore’s exclamation point, not mine.)
It might help to know that Moore has served as chairperson of the House States’ Right Committee, which deals with supposed federal government intrusion into state affairs. He also once admitted to taking down a portrait of President Barack Obama hanging at the Capitol because he didn’t like the president’s health care initiative.
It might seem like an exercise in futility to parse through some conservative Oklahoma politician’s philosophical statement about democracy, but I worry about how these types of non sequiturs and faulty premises become embedded in our political discourse here in Oklahoma and especially among students. A statement such as “democracy means socialism” coming from a political leader deserves some discussion and a lot more evidence and qualification than Moore provides.
CapitolBeatOK also ran an abbreviated version of Moore’s statement that didn’t include the horse thief story or “democracy means socialism.” That’s interesting, in itself. The site is operated by Patrick McGuigan, who once served as editorial page editor for The Oklahoman, one of the most conservative newspapers in the country.
Will disparate interests lead to some type of legislative Grand Bargain in Oklahoma this year that includes an irresponsible tax cut, a reduction in workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers and a plan to codify delays in state infrastructure improvements?
Maybe so or maybe not, but conflating these different GOP initiatives seems not only like a recipe for political infighting but also just plain poor governance and lawmaking. Trading, say, a reduction in benefits for people losing their limbs on the job for a delayed but larger tax cut is a grim business. It’s also illogical and ego-based politicking unrelated to the specific consequences of legislation.
Struggling to find an agreement on a tax cut and what Republicans call workers’ compensation “reform,” the GOP bigwigs have essentially announced they plan to announce a deal next week that includes majority agreement on the two issues, along with the support of an eight-year, “pay-as-you-go” agreement to renovate some state buildings and infrastructure.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon, a Lawton Republican, said, “We just thought it made sense to make it an announcement altogether." Of course, there’s been no actual announcement yet. This is sort of an announcement about a pending announcement, which makes very little sense.
The principal players include Shannon, who wants to take the slow path to infrastructure improvement, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, a Sapulpa Republican, who wants big changes in the state workers’ compensation system and Gov. Mary Fallin, who wants a tax cut, any tax cut it seems, to seal her GOP bonafides. The vested interests come complete, no doubt, with big and easily-bruised egos, or is that too much of an assumption?
Currently, on the tax-cut front, the Senate is negotiating House Bill 2032, a Fallin-supported measure that initially cut the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent next year without any offsets. The Senate, which had its own plan rejected by the House, then rewrote the bill. The new plan is to cut the rate to 4.95 percent, but not until 2015, and to sunset some tax credits.
A Senate plan to “reform” the state’s workers’ compensation system, contained in Senate Bill 1062, is now undergoing negotiations in the House, which is rewriting the measure. The bill is ostensibly about changing the system from a judicial process to an administrative process, but it also reduces benefits for those who get injured on the job. I wrote about it here.
So the Senate is rewriting the House’s tax bill and the House is rewriting the Senate’s workers’ compensation bill.
Meanwhile, Shannon’s infrastructure plan, House Bill 1910, which centralizes state property oversight and creates a long-term plan to renovate buildings, flies under the radar given the fact that the state Capitol building is crumbling to pieces before everyone’s eyes as Republicans announce their plan to make an announcement.
All these initiatives should be considered on their own merits without political tradeoffs unrelated to their purposes and consequences.
So here’s my own announcement of some common sense ideas: The tax cut should be put on hold because of the future loss in state revenue until the economy completely recovers from the Great Recession or until lawmakers get serious about overhauling the entire tax code. Any workers’ compensation bill that under the guise of “reform” severely reduces benefits for injured employees deserves to be defeated just for that reason alone, especially in Oklahoma. Why even implement a long-term, infrastructure renovation plan until the state Capitol building is repaired?
It might seem late in the game to comment, but I’ve had a difficult time wrapping my head around all the state support for a legislative bill that will allow the wholesale slaughtering of horses in the state and the sale of their flesh to other countries.
The measure, House Bill 1999, sponsored by state Rep. Skye McNiel, a Bristow Republican, has passed both the House and Senate by clear margins and might even be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin by the time this is published.
At its core, horse slaughtering seems abhorrent, whether done here or in Mexico. Horses are domesticated animals with a long history of work toil and loyalty, enshrined forever in American mythology. We ride on their backs. They literally carry our loads. They express affection for us.
Horses, after all, are not raised for the consumption of their flesh, but as, in many, many cases, pets, just as important or even more important to their owners because of their work capacity as a beloved dog and cat. We wouldn’t allow the wholesale slaughter of dogs and cats here and the sale of their flesh to other countries, would we? Why would our country sell “meat” to other countries that is basically considered taboo for consumption here?
Somehow that logic, as simple as it is, has become marginalized or deemed extreme in what debate happened during the consideration of the bill both inside and outside of the legislature.
But the logic does get at the arguments in favor of the bill, which go like this: There is an overpopulation of horses in the country and many people here now sell their old horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughter houses. Allowing horse slaughter plants here in Oklahoma will actually make the process more humane, and, oh yeah, but don’t say it too loud, horse dealers and the new slaughter plant owners here can make some good change while expressing their compassionate humanity.
Of course, the central premise that slaughtering is the best way to deal with horse overpopulation is heavily flawed. There are a myriad of ways to deal with the issue through basic horse ownership regulations.
So Trigger becomes European lasagna, but it’s good for the state economy, right? That’s just how much free market principles have become distorted in this country.
McNiel has even conceded her family, which owns a horse auctioning business, will benefit from the measure once Fallin signs it into law. The McNiel conflict of interest should have drawn skepticism in itself and the bill should have been killed, but there was no substantial outcry from her legislative peers on the issue. Maybe other legislators might want to pass their own laws one day to enrich their own families.
So it, as it so often does, comes down to money. But that doesn’t take into account that horses are often given medications in their lifetimes that could render their flesh dangerous for consumption. State Sens. Al McAffrey, an Oklahoma City Democrat and Constance Johnson, a Forest Park Democrat, eloquently brought up this point in legislative debate, but the concern was pretty much brushed aside with the argument that government meat inspectors will take care of all that. The bill passed the Senate on a 32-14 vote.
Supporters of the bill never really effectively addressed three other issues. One issue is the special relationship “the horse,” as an iconic animal, has to Oklahoma’s ties to frontier history and the state’s significant contemporary horse industry. Just maybe Oklahoma is one state that should jump off the horse-slaughter bandwagon and let other states do the butchering. Another issue is the admittedly slippery slope argument that some of all that horse meat is going to end up in our own food supply. The third issue is that a recent poll showed Oklahomans are decisively against horse slaughtering here.
Vegans and vegetarians might just argue that this issue shows just why we should all stop eating animals in the first place.