Much ink has been spilled over the last few months on the state of our democracy — how political discourse is dead, how the people are no longer represented, how the system is broken. Unfortunately for all of us, I’m here to spill just a bit more.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch our democracy in action over the last few weeks in the Louisiana Legislature. I’ve taken part in the process, lobbying my voice among hundreds of others in the fight over SB 1, a bill that would rename The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts — my alma mater.
At this point, I’m not going to litigate the merits of the bill — the alumni are united in opposition to it for good reasons. What’s important now is to illuminate to my fellow citizens how this process played out.
Democracy is supposed to be for the people. It’s our government, organized according to our wishes, and enacted by our representatives. They are there to serve us, to carry out our agenda. Let me be clear: that is far from what I experienced.
SB 1 passed swimmingly through two legislative committees against the express wishes of the people. The constituents it affects — namely, the students, parents, faculty, staff, and alumni of LSMSA — have made it clear we don’t want this bill. We have collectively spent hours testifying in committee, have sent thousands of emails, and called hundreds of times.
Through all of that action, how many votes did we sway? Just four — two senators on the floor and two representatives in committee.
Of the entire Legislature, are there really only four principled among you?
Watching this unfold has been stunning. It should be the easiest vote in the world. It’s left me disillusioned, frustrated, and disconcerted. Two senators used their position to push a bill upon the people — people who don’t want it. And everyone — all but four — ignored their constituents in order to gratify the ego of their colleagues.
I’m deeply perturbed by how this has process has played out. It’s a gross abuse of power by the authors and a callous, willful disregard of constituent wishes by everyone else. The system broke for SB 1, but there’s one vote left. Will anyone join these four brave men and women — State Sens. Dan Claitor, Fred Mills Jr., state Reps. Beryl Amedee and Polly Thomas?
entrepreneur and concerned citizen