Letter from Langdon: Boogeyman Politics

With constitutional amendments, scare tactics and a bumper crop of fuzzy thinking, the only thing we have to fear is politics itself.

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I tried politics once. I wasn’t very good at it.

I think this is why: When it comes to rights of the unborn, I’m anti-abortion – but pro choice. In other words, if it were up to me I’d have the baby, but since I’m a man, I don’t have to worry about that.

And I used to belong to the NRA  … until they rated me an antigun liberal because I said in their questionnaire I didn’t think average citizens should own machine guns. Since then I’ve reconsidered my position. I’m sure average Americans shouldn’t have the right to own machine guns, rocket launchers, hand grenades – or low yield nuclear weapons.

If that makes me antigun, then so be it. But to quote an old proverb, it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a Democrat to be endorsed by the NRA.

These days in Missouri, conservative Democrats are treated as suspected grand marshalls at a San Francisco gay rights parade, whereas conservatives, even the gay ones, keep looking for ways to be more conservative than anyone else.

A good example of that was the conservative candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri in 2012 who stated in front of reporters that abortions for rape victims were unnecessary because women only get pregnant when they want to. 

It’s that whole “woman” thing.

Now we’re entering another election cycle, and it is my privilege to live in an area of Missouri where I can observe my own states politics and those of our neighbor to the west, Nebraska, where most political ads begin with the words, “I am a conservative Nebraska Republican.”

There’s a news flash for ya. From here it looks to me like everyone in Nebraska is a conservative Republican, with a few possible exceptions, like the stellar family farm defender, attorney David Domina, who is running for U.S. Senate.

Nebraskans take note.

There is no doubt Nebraska conservatives probably outnumber Missouri as a percentage of their total population, even if their numbers aren’t equal to ours. In Nebraska about 47,000 people signed up for Obamacare, while in Missouri, despite the stigma attached to having affordable healthcare, nearly three times as many took the pledge.

But one thing we have in common is that all our conservative candidates for state government pledge to preserve the right to keep and bear arms and repeal Obamacare.

This is where conservatives’ refusal to adequately fund public education (and possibly cutting civics class) is revealed for what it is – a huge misunderstanding of how government works. Perhaps if we did a better job in our public classrooms, so many candidates for state office would understand the differences between federal and state duties and responsibilities – like education, the Constitution and maybe healthcare.

A few months back a friend of mine signed up for Obamacare and saved roughly $500 per month on health insurance. He was ecstatic and maybe a little surprised. Then last month President Obama traded a few Guantanamo detainees for U.S. POW Beau Bergdahl. My friends comment was “so what do you think of what your president just did?” My answer was simple.

“You mean the president who gave you health care coverage?”

End of discussion.

But a lack of understanding for separation of powers hasn’t stopped the Missouri General Assembly from placing a number of amendments to our state Constitution on ballots in August and November.

For instance, Amendment No. 1 assures the right to conduct “agriculture.” But the proposed wording is so broad and all inclusive that the amendment looks more like a blank check that big agribusiness can cash against family farms. Conservative farm groups, which is to say about 90% of all of them, are backing the amendment because  boogeymen Humane Society and Environmental Protection Agency are out to get us. (See Richard’s column on this topic here.)

The way I see it, clueless government and seed and market monopolies will get me way before the boogeyman does.

Other proposed amendments like  No. 5 for gun rights and No. 9 for privacy of electronic communications look about the same: broad and applicable to just about anything anyone might want … like allowing convicted felons to pack a sidearm.

So texting drivers beware: Amendment No. 9 may keep the cops from checking your phone, but if you hit a felon who’s packing? The Amendment No. 5 penalty could be severe.

Missouri conservatives keep looking for ways to save tax dollars. Around here, tax credits get passed out like candy at a Fourth of July political parade. One set of sales tax credits for a few businesses threatens to cut local city and county revenue by millions across the state if Governor Nixon’s veto is overridden.

The city of Hannibal alone has been projected to lose over $800,000.

I once spoke to a conservative state senator who tolerantly explained to me that tax credits have no cost. They are budget neutral because lawmakers don’t have to count what they don’t collect. But budgets are based on revenue as well as expense, so any cut in projected revenue affects the budget, I argued.

He just shrugged and walked away.

Ever mindful of the bottom line, careful conservatives have placed a sales tax hike for highways not in statutes where it belongs and could be cut, but in an amendment to the Constitution where it would take something more than an act of Congress to repeal.

Sometimes government giveth, and sometimes government taketh away. Good roads are popular among drivers, and road taxes are popular among sales-tax exempt construction companies who giveth generously at election time.

It’s a win-win situation.

Richard Oswald, a fifth generation farmer, lives in Langdon, Missouri, and is president of the Missouri Farmers Union.

 

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