The Difference Between Writing and Legislating Is …

2014 05 23 18 15 05

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All rights reserved.

The difference between writing and legislating is, to put it in Okie parlance, writing don’t matter.

I’ve heard the old canard “The pen is mightier than the sword” all my life. Sounds great, doesn’t it? After all, Marx and Hitler both wrote books that laid waste much of the 20th century and whose insidious damage not only lingers, but is still active, like occult cancer cells in the social bloodstream that just won’t die.

It appears that some people are willing to kill just about anybody and everybody based on what they think is written in the Koran. And other people are willing to die for what is written in the Bible, and still other people (get ready for this) are ready to tear down the structure of society based on what is written by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, et al.

The pen, is, or a least it can be, mighty. But I can tell you as a former sword holder that there’s nothing like brandishing the bludgeon of law around to scare the you-know-what out of people, including yourself.

The difference between writing as I do it and legislating as I did it is that writing don’t matter.

I can write a different blog post after I finish this one commanding everyone who reads it to go find a bridge and jump off of it. But, it won’t matter if I do.

In the first place, nobody has to read what I write. There’s zero penalty for just taking a pass on reading my words. In the second place, such a command, coming in a blog post, is far more likely to inspire laughter than obedience, because nobody — and I mean nobody — has to do what it says. In the third place, anything I write, whether its drivel or genius, will be forgotten in about 36 hours, max.

Writers are a lot more sensitive and emotional than legislators, and I include myself in that category. I’ve done a couple of things as a writer that I would not have dreamed of doing as a legislator. The reason?

It don’t matter.

The anger of a writer is more like a child, throwing their toys around in a pique. When a lawmaker gets angry, people get scared. Because the anger of a lawmaker can have huge consequences. By the same token, and appearances aside, lawmakers don’t take off after each other in public all the time, again for one simple reason. Such behavior can have consequences.

I know that sounds untrue, given the verbal fisticuffs that lawmakers engage in 24/7, but believe me, there are rules; things you don’t say, things you don’t do and confidences you don’t violate. The consequences are too high.

I went through a long period where I was hated and despised by my colleagues because of the fact that I would run right over them if I had to in order to pass pro life laws. The weakness in all their nasty that they heaped on my head was that I might have been hated and despised, but I was also Representative Hated and Despised. They could — and did — break my heart. But they had to be careful about taking it past the capitol doors, because there could be — would be — consequences.

There’s a saying in politics: Forgive and remember.

Nobody wants to get on the business end of that saying. It’s just stupid to put yourself there.

And it is also what I love most about not being a legislator. I can write whatever I want as a blogger and not get all in a snit about it because It. Don’t. Matter.

Lawmakers can kill people by putting a comma in the wrong place. Not only that, but bad laws don’t go away. They have a shelf life that runs into generations. Make a mistake with a law, and you can ruin people’s lives, even end people’s lives, for decades into the future.

Not only that, but lawmaking is always an exercise in who to hurt. Just about every vote I cast in my 18 years in office was at some level a decision as to who to hurt.

The pressures, the responsibility and the inevitability of making mistakes that will do harm were like living in a pressure cooker with the heat cranked up. Add to that the responsibility for thousands of constituents, and you’ve got a whole mountain on top you.

Nobody calls a blogger at three in the morning because their son was just murdered in the jail. When it rains, I don’t worry if Brock Creek will flood and drown people. The other day when I was taking Mama to the doc, I saw a cloud of smoke in the general area of my district. I looked at it, said a prayer for those involved, and felt grateful with the gratitude of someone who does not have to deal with it and try to make it right.

If a tornado wipes out your neighborhood, you’ve got to rebuild, but you don’t have to put on your boots and hard hat and go out, walking from one smashed home to another, making a list of things that people are needing that you have to figure out how to get for them. Of course, helping them is the good part. Having them cling to you like wounded children is what humbles and drains you to the depths.

I no longer have to convince gangs to stop killing people and work to keep the police and the people on the same congenial page. I look at things like Ferguson and I know that somewhere in all this there were lawmakers who weren’t doing their jobs, who didn’t get these things worked out and taken care of before they got to this pass.

Because legislating isn’t all or even mostly lawmaking. It’s taking care of thousands upon thousands of people. It’s protecting and building community. It’s loving and caring and using yourself up in the service of others.

Writing a blog, on the other hand, is mostly a kind of thinking out loud. A blog has a wide, wide sweep. It gets into the thinking of almost limitless numbers of people all over the globe. It can engage them and give them an opportunity to express their own thoughts and feelings. It can, at its best, help them to develop those thoughts and think things through.

Blogging is a form of teaching and a kind of entertainment.

But it does not — ever — reach the point where it really matters all that much.

Because if I made a law telling people to jump off a bridge, they would have to do it or pay fines, go to prison or find the scratch and spit to take on the government in court. But if I write a blog post telling people to jump off a bridge, they can — and will — laugh at me and turn the page.

On the other hand, if I write a blog post that gets people all worked up and wanting to lynch me, I can shut down the computer and go to a movie. They can’t do anything more than hiss and spit and disagree.

Blogging is fun precisely because It. Don’t. Matter.

It’s taken me a while to “get” that. In fact, I’m working on it still. I have to learn and know and believe what I’m saying to you here does not have the gravitas and will never be as deadly as law. The only consequence it has is what you, of your own free will, chose to give it.

I can help you think. I can provoke you to take ideas and noodle with them, disagree with them, support them, or dissect them. But I can do this only if you chose to do it. The contract between you and me, writer to reader, is our mutual freedom.

That’s the essence of what I’m trying to learn about my new life. I am slowly coming to grips with the sudden and as yet incomprehensible degree of freedom that is mine. I’ve traded a straightjacket for wings. I’ve cashed in my blazer with the target on it for a computer that turns off and an office door that shuts.

Because, in the final analysis and at the end of the day when the rubber meets the road and we get to the bottom line all in a collision of cliches and final thoughts, It. Don’t. Matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, put on your reading glasses, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to roll.

I am free.

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Sick of Politicians? Here’s Why.

Jay Leno said a mouthful (pun intended) with this video.


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The Last Wagon Train for the Marriage Gold Rush

You’d think it was the last wagon leaving for the gold rush.

Politicians are hopping off traditional marriage and jumping on board the gay marriage band wagon as fast as their fat little feet will carry them.

It’s been kind of fun for me,  watching them step up to the mike and explain how god (little g,) evolution, their philosophical understanding and reasoning abilities, as well as family and friends have finally made them come to this secular jesus (little j) and get turned around facing forward at last.

All this time when they were campaigning based on their support for traditional marriage it seems that they were just deluded by a lack of … ummm … evolution? … brainpower? … moral gravitas? … oh you know, the bloomin’ polls were the other way and you gotta do what you gotta do to win the election.

They tell us that their long soul searching has finally come to an end. They are now persuaded by their own evolving natures, “their” god (little g), their philosophy and highly questionable reasoning abilities, etc, that now is the time for them to make this brave stand. The day has come for them to go along with the crowd (once again) on gay marriage and reverse the position they took previously. Having dusted off 2,000 years of Western civilization with their profound moral gravitas, it’s time for them to get back to standing their ground on all those other issues.

Which they will do.

You can trust them.

Until the poll numbers change.

One problem with governing by the polls is that you never know what you believe until you get up in the morning and check to see the latest numbers. Another problem with governing by the polls is that nobody else knows what you think, either.

Marriage is a fundamental kind of thing. If whole groups of politicians can just flip over on marriage like a bunch of flap jacks, why should we believe them about other promises they make?

These aren’t children. The young ones are middle-aged. Their ways should be fixed.

I wouldn’t be making this judgement if it was just one lone ranger who stood up and announced in a quavery voice that his gay brother wouldn’t eat Christmas dinner with him unless he changed his stand on the issue. I would never object to anything that smacked of authenticity and an honest reappraisal of the issue. That’s life. And life happens to all people, including elected officials.

When a politician steps out there alone and does something like this, it usually betokens guts and some sort of genuine change of heart. The price of making a move like this all by yourself can be enormous and no one would do it lightly.

But that is not what is happening here. What they are giving us are canned little speeches that sound like they came from a liars template shop.

“I evolved. I prayed. I want people to be happy. My family/friends/gay staffers told me to. Civil rights.”

They say these things like someone reading the slip from a fortune cookie. It is soooo obvious that they don’t believe what they are saying. It is equally obvious that they also don’t much care if we believe it. This is just another bit of work they’ve got to cross off their to dos before they go to the reception and on to dinner with the boys.

They don’t care that no one with half a brain is going to buy these twice-told tales they tell. They just want to get it over and done so they can go back to doing whatever it is they do when they’re not balancing the budget and not getting this country out of an endless round of meaningless wars and not taking care of the industrial drain or finding jobs for the jobless recovery or any other useful thing that I can see.

They are the same balding pieces of work they were before they “evolved,” or god (little g) spotlighted them like a deer and told them to go forth and overturn 2,000 years of Christian teaching, or they realized that people need to be happy, or their family/friends/gay staffers finally got their attention, or they had some sort of bizarro epiphany about “civil rights.” They’re the same phony-baloney political opportunists they were when they told us they supported traditional marriage.

The polls told them what to say then, and the polls are telling them what to say now.

I know I sound harsh, but it’s difficult to be mild when I see such obvious, in-your-face, flat-out and unapologetic lying to the American people. What we are witnessing is a herd crossing of the political Rubicon that home and family represent in Western society. Once it’s done, we — and by that I mean our society and our future as a nation and a people — will never be the same again.

This is not about evolving or family or civil rights. It most certainly is not about Christian faith. It is about perceived political expediency.

The assumption seems to be that the people in their districts will overlook this as they have so many other things and re-elect them like slot machines come election time. It may work. The American people are so overburdened with the multiple traumas bad governance and a deconstructing society have pushed onto them that they no longer respond like free people.

“What can we do?” they say. “Nobody listens anyway.”

My advice to anyone who feels disheartened by all this callous gamesmanship on the part of our elected officials is to remember that while we are indeed citizens of the USA, we are also citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Here, right now, we are already citizens of that Kingdom.

Our first loyalty and our only center has to be that Kingdom coming. Our jobs as citizens of this world is to be the leaven of the Kingdom.

Our faith never was and never should be in politicians. Our faith is in Jesus Christ. It does not matter to us at all what the polls say. We follow Christ and He never changes.

Do not let a few stupid politicians who foolishly follow polls instead of God Almighty drive you to despair. Absolutely do not let them wear down your commitment to keep on speaking for the truth of the Gospels and doing the right thing.

As for this charge for the last wagon leaving for the gold rush, it is a rush to the fool’s gold of fleeting popular opinion. Before you can say “I told you so,” it will come rushing back, going the other way.

Your job right now is to make sure that you, for one, do not get on it.

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