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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5592/the-rotten-heart-of-democracy/

The Rotten Heart of Democracy

September 10, 2006 by

Adrian Fenty is the heir presumptive to District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams, who will leave office in January. Fenty, a city councilman, is the frontrunner going into Tuesday’s Democratic primary, which in a one-party “democracy” like Washington is tantamount to election. A profile of the 35-year-old Fenty in today’s Washington Post reiterates the campaign’s major storyline—Fenty’s youth and energy versus the political “experience” of his principal opponent, D.C. Council President Linda Cropp:

To his fans, Fenty is an inspiring and hardworking leader. He introduced bills that helped launch the District’s school modernization program and indoor smoking ban. He cast the only vote against a hastily assembled crime bill despite the glare of the campaign. He has advocated for low-income families left behind during the boom of the past decade. And he has the potential to bridge the city’s racial and social divides: He is the son of a black father and a white mother who marched for civil rights and then opened a small business. He is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio and Howard University School of Law. He grew up in a diverse neighborhood, and he’s comfortable in rooms where he has the darkest or the lightest skin.

To the skeptics, Fenty is an opportunistic showboat who is good at highlighting problems but unwilling to work with others to solve them. As a private lawyer before joining the council, he botched one client’s case so badly that a judge declared his conduct “either incompetent or negligent or both.” On the council, he has never demonstrated much interest in the nuts and bolts of legislation, critics say; during the debate over the crime bill, he didn’t propose any amendments to try to improve it. During his campaign, he pledged not to raise taxes — and then voted for a tax increase a few days later. He also said he would send his children to public school — but didn’t.

The Post explains how Fenty’s “school modernization program” was nothing more than a plan to raise taxes on businesses. Fenty’s original proposal relied entirely on lottery revenues, which virtually every other council member rejected as fiscally unworkable. Hence the tax increase. Why Fenty thinks pouring more money into a school system that already is among the highest in per capita spending in the U.S. is not addressed.

Washington’s problems cannot be solved with a young, energetic mayor who sends his kids to government schools. Washington’s economy is almost entirely dependant on the massive federal government. Politics are the exclusive realm of self-interested civil servants and lawyers. There’s little incentive to develop true markets, since the monopoly state’s multiple layers control most of the capital. Washington’s residents are condemned to perpetual serfdom unless and until the feds go out of business.

{ 2 comments }

Jeff R September 11, 2006 at 7:07 pm

The Post based their endorsement of Fenty over Cropp as, essentially, “energy over record.” There’s probably a reason that the Post discredits using the past professional record of a candidate as a rationale for their endorsement. Let’s look at theirs:

1978 and 1982 endorsements: Marion Barry—arrested and indicted while in office.

1990 endorsement: Sharon Pratt–Kelly—almost recalled after a series of scandals in office.

Now, they want us to take their endorsement of Fenty as having weight. But with a track record like that, can we trust them?

On September 12th, I will vote for substance over style, and record over show. I will vote against the Post and Fenty, and for a candidate with a proven track record, because, given the history, it’s too dangerous not to.

Mark Brabson September 12, 2006 at 11:09 am

With all due respect, I kinda hafta question the sanity of anybody who would voluntarily live in the District of Columbia. The only way I would voluntarily live there was if my residence was 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Otherwise, I think prudence would dictate living over in Northern Virginia and commuting in.

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