Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What are Senators for?

I think that I might be very naive about politics.

I understand that our elected representatives go to Congress and try to do things that will get them reelected. Often these are things that bring money back to the state, or actions that they feel there constituents would approve of. Many members of Congress genuinely want to represent their districts or states. But...

What is up with Senator Carper of Delaware, my home state? I voted for him because he has a reputation as a moderate and most especially because I liked what he said at my graduation from University of Delaware. He cut taxes in Delaware when he was governor and I think that is a good thing. Delaware politics is marked by good cooperation between the two parties, often state offices change back and forth between the parties and since it is a small state there is a round robin effect between the Governor seat, the single representative seat, and the two senatorial seats. I don't claim to be an expert on this but it lets me set the scene.

So we elect Carper to the senate and he suddenly does some weird things. Did you know that Delaware doesn't have a national park? No? Who cares? Yet Carper is working on getting us a national park so we can get more tourists and some federal pork. You don't think that all of Washington that has a beach house at Bethany, knows where the state is and comes to visit. What about the entire east coast bitching about the toll at the Delaware state line on I-95. They know where we are and they will stop if they want to. If you want to improve our lives and the economy of Delaware try broadening the industry base instead of the same old increase tourism chant that every state tries.

Then yesterday is the announcement that Senator Carper supports a 25% tax on internet porn. Apparently Senator Carper has done what no municipality or government has been able to do before him, and that is to figure out who is buying what on the internet and tax it. Maybe he is the one sending me the web hoax about taxing the internet. The senator says that the bill will keep children away from internet pornography, instead of perhaps the more practical method of having their parents do that. Of course I can't go against his bill because then it look I support pornography on the internet (none of my business) or that I don't want to protect children (do I have to answer that really, does this really have to do with that, won't somebody please think of the children!).

Perhaps I am embarrassed by the senator's actions because I voted for him and feel somehow responsible. Maybe I am against his latest crusade because (1) it is unworkable, (2) I don't agree that one should use taxes to engineer social change, (3) I believe in free speech even if I don't agree with what you are saying, (4) more laws to cover the same stuff that is already illegal is overkill (5) many, many more reasons.

I like it better when Senator Carper works on retaining funding for Amtrak which is vital to transportation in the Northeast. I don't care of the rest of the country wants it, there are 50 million of us here. Preserving Amtrak is useful to his constituents. I expect him to act the moderate and hold the line on government excess budget spending and taxing, and also on budget cutting in the wrong places.

I daresay that I would prefer inaction to the two crazy items I have listed above. The senator should be careful that the things that get him recognized nationally are not crazy fringe issues. I know being a moderate isn't as sexy as being a radical righter or a crazy liberal but that is the direction I expected him to take and I hope to see some evidence of it.

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