Saturday, December 3, 2022

HILDO: The arrogance of youth

Representation and City Politics

New year, new column.  Same old bad attitude.

And wotta year, right? We got to use letters of the Greek alphabet we’d never heard of! “Oh” micron? “Ahm” micron? Who knows?

What’s next? Xi? How is that one pronounced? And is it “myew” or “moo”?

It’s too late to matter. Twenny twenny too is hard upon us, and there’s no looking back. Nope, it’s time to look ahead at all the opportunities the New Year brings.

Babe in the woods
First a little City Politics 101, kidz.  We live in what is called a representative democracy. This means we don’t normally vote directly on governance and policy issues. Instead we vote for representatives who convene to deliberate on governance and policy issues on our behalf.  

We elect members to legislative bodies like village and city councils and county commissions and the Ohio legislature, which is a bicameral body. “Bicameral” means there are two parts, the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.  We also elect members of other branches of government, like mayors and governors and county treasurers and judges.

The essential component of a representative democracy is that those who are elected actually represent some portion of those who elect them, who are called “constituents.”  Elected representatives who represent various constituents then gather to deliberate on questions of policy and governance that affect those they represent.  In the cauldron of various constituents’ interests is brewed decisions that, in theory anyway, best advance policies that meet the needs of the majority, while never ignoring the aspirations of the minority.

It’s all lofty and delightful. Now, enter one Colin Flanagan.  We’d never heard of him until recently, and have nothing against him. Seems like a nice enough young chap of a tender twenty two or so years. According to his bio, he was raised in the suburbs, went to a private high school, then got a poli sci degree at OSU and is now at UT Law.

And he is a declared candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

This begs questions.  Like, who does this dude think he represents? His bio seems pretty narrow. But wait! He says he wants to represent working people. Astonishing! Do working people want a twenty something college kid representing them?

Second question. If Colin wants to represent working people, why is he running against an actual working person? His declared opponent, Erika White, is the elected president of a labor union.  Meaning her constituents are working people. Who elected her to represent them in their union.

The young and the restless
Robert Worthington, another twenty something who has run repeatedly for public office, takes a more direct approach.  He says he runs for office because he’s convinced that he’s a good candidate.  Regardless of who he may or may not represent.  His website bio is long and rambling, but concludes by saying he doesn’t want your vote if you’re an “a-hole”, as he so eloquently puts it. He softens the blow by stating he is the consummate professional. So there’s that.

Look, we think young people are a key constituency who deserve adequate representation in local, state, and federal government.  Perhaps some are a-holes, but we digress.  Anyway, a young person who wants to represent young people and their goals and aspirations shouldn’t pretend to be what they aren’t. Be a young person who thinks young people need a voice. Period.

And get involved. Worthington is working in his neighborhood improvement citizens’ group.  That helps him adequately represent his neighborhood.  Make sure young folks know who you are and what you represent, so they can see whether you would represent them. 

Young people will never be adequately represented until young people register and vote. Devote time to inspiring your peers to get involved in the political process.  Take over the whole shebang, and do it soon, while there’s still time. But do it while owning it.  State it directly.  We’re young, we’re here, and this is our show now. Get over it.

One last thing. Don’t underestimate the a-holes. They vote too.

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