Monday, April 23, 2012

Politics: "Waiter, this basket of legislation is cold!"

Whatever you think of the Trayvon Martin shooting, the applicability or inapplicability of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, or the various groups of all ideological stripes jockeying around the situation, the whole thing has proven to be an interesting case study in how modern lawmaking actually works.

You see, long ago, I used to think laws were written by legislators, sorta like the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon:


Sure, it might be some staffer actually drafting it, and it probably involved some shady deal hammered out in a smoky back room, influenced by a ton of lobbyists, but I did think laws still originated in the legislature.

It turns out that the state capitol is more like the Olive Garden, serving us frozen food that's been cooked up elsewhere. I was giving the "lawmakers" too much credit - why bother to draft statutes when you have ready-made stuff to introduce that will get you brownie points for Team D or Team R?

I guess that's why every time there's a public outcry about a law, the government gins up a flurry of study groups, blue ribbon panels, special commissions, and task forces. Most of the time, our Congresscritters aren't even grandstanding for attention at this point - they're as genuinely clueless about what a law does as Joe Schmo. They might be pushing an agenda, but they have no idea what the agenda actually is. As such, picketing outside the Capitol is like complaining to your Olive Garden server that the pasta e fagoli ingredients are bad.

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