You wouldn’t often have occasion to place the North State’s congressional representative, Doug LaMalfa, amongst a group of elites. And yet he finds himself in exclusively moronic company by dint of the extreme to which he has taken his climate change denials (see this Guardian special for a moving example of some American communities affected by climate change).
Demonstrating once again that his first loyalty is to the corporate handlers who bankroll his fundamentalist party, LaMalfa is one of the signatories of the Koch Brothers “No Cl!mate Tax” Pledge. He is one of only six members of California’s congressional delegation who have put their name to a pledge which requires signatories to foreswear the use of their little grey cells and commit themselves to voting down “any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue” (a total of 144 representatives in the House have signed the pledge, along with eleven governors and 25 Senators).
And because bringing down consumption or pollution isn’t something that most industries are willing to do on their own, they generally need a little prodding, which most sensibly comes in the form of a tax or some kind. Meaning that the band of merry clowns of whom LaMalfa is one have committed themselves to hamstringing the ability of the United States public and government to address climate change.
Legislators who sign away their brains and commit to take their marching orders from the Koch Empire and its ilk get a pat on the head and a check in the mail for their pains. Koch Dollars very likely help to offset any angst signatories might experience from the knowledge that they are shafting their constituents.
California has a little experience with government by pledge. Until 2012 our state was run by the minority (thanks to the undemocratic supermajority requirements laid down by Prop 13), which consisted of a caucus of pledge-taking, oath-swearing fanatics who pledged themselves against any tax increases in the state, come good times or bad, deficits or surpluses, growth or retrenchment. The pledge in California is promoted by Grover Norquist’s sociopathic anti-tax organisation, and LaMalfa (when a state senator) and virtually all of his Republican Party colleagues signed up.
The results? Political anarchy, in which our Governor had to resort to ballot-box budgeting. Economic uncertainty, as the Republican Party’s fanaticism hammered the very small business interests they purport to protect, thanks to the chaotic climate their serial irresponsibility generated (among other things, Prop 13 and its pre-historic, die-in-the-ditch defenders forces extreme volatility on the state by giving little leeway to legislators when it comes to crafting tax policy, particularly with regard to property tax). And social disparity, as the institutions and welfare provisions that the working and middle classes depend on where shuttered and slashed in aid of creating a vast system of support for the wealthy based on contributions from the rest of us.
Because it was governed by pledge-taking regressives, California’s society grew more unequal, its schools grew less effective, its universities became more exclusive, and the state’s ability to make coherent public policy was virtually destroyed.
Given our experience in the Golden State of being governed by LaMalfa and his fanatical colleagues, we shouldn’t be surprised that they take the same brittle, brainless, inflexible approach to D.C. Their irresponsibility is deplorable not only because of what it does to our republic. It is also just plain lazy. In signing the Koch Empire’s pledge, LaMalfa is kicking back. He doesn’t have to develop an affirmative policy, he doesn’t have to think, he doesn’t have to evaluate the consequences of his actions.
LaMalfa is betraying his constituents by heading out to lunch and turning the controls over to the type of people who brought us the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and every moment of predatory corporate profiteering before, in-between, or since. LaMalfa is effectively helping his party to put government on autopilot, cruising towards big corporate dividends and devastating public consequences. In essence, LaMalfa and his pledge-taking colleagues are declining to do the job we elected them to do.
I hope that when he gets up each morning, the North State’s congressman at least has the honesty to begin his day with, “I pledge allegiance, to the bottom line of the Koch Empire and its class, and to the anarchy, for which it stands, one nation, under corporate rule, with liberty and justice for the few”.