Andrew Jackson, in town for the 2010 Falls Church City Democratic Committee Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to be held April 11, stopped by Ireland’s Four Provinces where we had a chance to quaff an amber and discuss city politics.
The tough old progressive seemed peeved.
Before the first round arrived, the old man lit into me about the city council candidates and the moving local elections to November issue.
“How exactly, sir, does one sensibly argue that having fewer people vote in local elections is good government? Where are the progressives in this city? Why have the candidates been allowed to tout, unchallenged by progressives, the notion that a handful of insiders are best able to decide who should be their elected representative? Has my work to expand the right to vote, to diminish the power of the Electoral College system, as a fundamental principle of Jacksonian Democracy … has that all been lost to history? Will this great progressive city really sit down and elect any candidate who advocates for the inane notion that having fewer people voting in city elections is a good idea?”
Jackson’s blues eyes narrowed and he started texting furiously. Beers arrive and he takes a long sip. Tapping a bony finger on the table, he continues:
“You, my good friend, have a serious problem. You have become infested with damned nullifiers. Nullifiers who would create a city government run by continuous public referendum rather than by representative democracy. Nullifiers who would substitute the bullying bombasts of tired old men over the expertise of qualified city employees. Nullifiers who would feed the citizens of this great city a steady unhealthy diet of mystery meat math and venomous personal attacks. Such a diet is destructive to, and wholly inconsistent with, the very reasons your progressive progenitors founded Falls Church City. Why would you let the beady-eyed, small handed, Calhounists go unchallenged in their continuous mocking of the importance of local government and their advocacy for surrendering the independence of the city? Are modern progressives unable to set some minimal baseline standards of allegiance to local government … where at least the nullifier candidates have to have attended half the budget meetings before they vote ‘no’ and attack city employees?”
The old warrior leaned back a bit and closed his eyes. Slouching now, Jackson spoke deliberately, almost sighing:
“Term limits. Politicians who want to stay in local office for, say, 20 years, inevitably corrupt the system. The lack of rotation encourages personal political agendas, stifles new ideas, and fosters an insidious system of political patronage where old time politicians unmoor themselves from accountability in order to curry favor with voters on every issue. That is not progressive leadership. It is longevity in office just for the sake of one’s self.”
The lights turned up and the bill came due. Waiting for a cab we made small talk about how much we enjoyed smoke free restaurants and laughed out load about the “hip hop agenda” of Michael Steele.
Suddenly serious, Jackson turned to me and said, “Michael, remind your Democratic friends I was more than an ill-tempered Indian fighter. Jacksonian Democracy is about stabilizing and improving our community by allowing more people to participate in local government and by holding bullying nullifiers accountable to a standard of good government.”
Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.