I listened to my Senator, Mike Shower, explaining on the radio why his colleagues kicked him out of the majority caucus. What a zoo! We watch in stunned amazement (from a distance) and it is frustrating. We are watching abusive injustice against voters… (us). Senator Shower represents my values well and now he/we are neutralized by whatever game our legislators are playing! It is an affront to all Alaskans because it mocks the Alaska Constitutional assurance: “All political power is inherent in the people…” (Article I.2). Alaskans sent a Republican Majority of legislators to Juneau which means Senator Shower, by association, represents the values of a majority of Alaskans. We are a Red State and hold vetted red-state values clearly accessible on-line as a party platform. The platform is a product of hard work in a grass roots, open to all, process. So, why are we forced to tolerate, year after year, the insult of legislative organizational abuse that mocks who we are?
My years of experience in Juneau taught me arcane traditions prevail in the Juneau legislative culture. The best we could do with our collaboration and consensus was create a ‘survival of the fittest’ legislative environment. Rules get established over time, shaped by a Constitution that intentionally created a weak legislature! This, plus a provision of an apolitical revenue stream (the legislature has no credible need to pass tax legislation for the lion’s share of the budget), allows energy for a childish game of legislative “king on the mountain”. The “on-the-job training” for new legislators in the organizational process includes dealing with being outwitted and bullied by insider senior legislators who have been previously domesticated to adequately fund the “deep state”. Many legislators who would otherwise succeed because of their integrity and expertise, find themselves side-lined (like Shower) when all the forces for big government are accumulated against them. In effect, Alaska’s legislation is censured to allow only a mixture of fluff (naming bridges, fighting over coincided designs, creating holidays to honor people or state events, resolutions with no legal authority), or, any legislation to fund the deep state (the SB 115 tax makes my point). Responsible spending laws, or laws trying to fix the constitution get no traction. The legislators in “leadership” (some are good friends) are victims, not tyrants. They have often had to restrain themselves from expressing their red-state values in order to acquire their authority. To earn their influence to fight for their constituent’s “share” at the trough. They have had to pay their dues to powers greater than the powers of the legislature.
There is ample evidence that our “red-state values” have slipped to accommodate this mess. As a culture, we abhor meaningful partisan wars, in spite of the fact heart-felt debate actually reveals America’s (any Republic’s) good health! Diverse perspectives require “air”! If we believe we really have been created equal, we must endure passion of arguments. Remember the lukewarm Senate “Bi-partisan Working Group? (Circa 2008) How did that work out? Check your history and consider the quality of the Senators ultimately disenfranchised (like Senator Shower) in that fiasco. (Senators Dyson, Therriault, Huggins… statesmen with solid values). We are ignoring the symptom of disease when we tell ourselves we prefer bi-partisan pablum… it simply does not work that way. We are so far down this road, any repair of original constitutional imbalances is hard to imagine, especially when they are proposed by defrocked legislators! Remember, in Alaska’s imbalanced Constitution, any Constitutional amendment must be approved by 2/3 of the entire legislature before “we the people” get a vote. In my opinion, this imposes an almost impossible threshold unless we start a passionate political war. I respectively predict Senator Shower’s proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 17) to repair this mess is hardly worth the paper it is written on because we tolerate bipartisan legislative leadership that will not move this type of legislation!
We are dealing with the unintentional consequence of lack of checks and balances intentionally instituted into our constitution. Popular wisdom once was, we supposedly had too few people to pay for government in a massive geographic area. Incredibly, some still believe this even after seeing our oil wealth. This argument was used to justify creation of an administrative government significantly diminishing the role of the legislature. Alaskan tweaks of traditional constitutional values are having a profound impact far beyond what was probably anticipated. It is now not enough for constituents to get angry with their legislators because they fail to fix the problem because they can’t—without unprecedented engagement of politically passionate people. If we continue to allow the ruling class in the “deep state” to overthrow conservatives such as Senator Showers, Governor Dunleavy, and others, we lose! It is an open question as to whether we can possibly repair our government, or not…. the Alaskan version of “deep state” may be a terminal condition!
This was also submitted as an article to The People’s Paper.