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GUEST OPINION: The flaw in our democracy

The election is over, and the blitzkrieg of political ads has subsided — but not the rage and fury many felt at the issues that affect us all.

My greatest lesson from this election and recent elections is that we have institutionalized prejudice and hatred. Discrimination against a minority is alive and well, but expecting rewards for bad behavior is a right.

We discriminated against high-income earners with Proposition 30. Many are very comfortable about taxing people above a certain income level simply because they get someone else to pay the bill. Jealousy and hatred are incredibly negative emotions to foment in society, but that's exactly what happened. Self-interested people took the easy way out and voted to make someone else pay for their services.

The Republicans want us to discriminate against gays and against women who unwittingly become pregnant. The Democrats want us to discriminate against the wealthy and the successful with higher taxes and greater regulation. The food purists want us to discriminate against high-yield farmers, and the self-righteous want us to discriminate against tobacco-users. People who drive hybrids want to use the HOV lanes even though they drive alone, and bicyclists who pay no road-use gas tax want to carve out a piece of the road for themselves. Renters want to discriminate against property owners with parcel taxes, and, let's face it, the masses want to discriminate against any minority because they can as long as someone else foots the bill.

The great flaw in our democracy is that the majority can always vote to take a disproportionate price from a minority. Everyone's vote counts the same regardless of your contributions. Legislating morality, taxing success and generally narcissistic behavior are the great issues of our time.

Never mind that our kids are uneducated, our streets aren't safe, our borders are porous, our neighbor's lifestyle is frowned on, our daughters aren't supposed to be able to correct a mistake.

And exacerbating that great flaw is the fact that government supports such discrimination. Each new act of discrimination creates new bureaucracy and more power for the politicians.

Give me one good politician who never tells me his or her belief, feeling or sentiment. Give me a politician who uses analysis and logic to determine what's in the best, long-term interests of society and not just what will get him or her re-elected. Give me a politician who says, "I'm here to serve, not to rule. I'll do what's in my constituents' interests — not what my party tells me to do."

I doubt such a person can get nominated, let alone elected. But they'd get my vote.

(Basil Adams is a professor at Santa Rosa Junior College and at Golden Gate University. He lives in Petaluma.)


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