The new government religion: Regionalism
Remember these two principles of folks with a conservative or libertarian world-view? “That government is best which governs least.” And “local government is the most representative because it is closest to the people it governs.”
And let’s throw in a third principle enunciated by the late Democrat Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill (a liberal, back before that word was replaced by “progressive”): “All politics is local.”
And we the people shout, “Hurrah!” Right? Because most of us ordinary folks of conservative and libertarian persuasion hold those truths to be self-evident and basic to our whole compact of governance in the U.S. of A.
Let me tell you a dirty little secret: A whole lot of folks we elect to public office, from city council to state legislature on up to governor and the U.S. Congress not only don’t buy into those positions anymore but actively seek to nullify them.
To many in “leadership” positions — including heads of chambers of commerce — the notion of “localism” is not only quaintly provincial and redolent of the unenlightened past but also is an actual impediment to “getting things done” and “progress.”
What follows is a parable, only a parable.
Welcome to the new world of enlightened leaders, defined as those elite intellectuals who look beyond their petty electoral borders — like county lines and city limits (and their voting constituents) — to the broad, cosmopolitan uplands of regionalism.
If these locally elected but regionally oriented leaders are the bishops and archbishops of the Church of the Region, then the Atlanta Regional Commission is the Vatican bureaucracy and one-time Democrat and late in life convert to the Republican Party Governor Nathan Deal is its newest pope.
These bishops and archbishops are nothing if not ambitious. They aspire to advance into the elite College of Cardinals, the 21-member Regional Transportation Roundtable. That’s where the big bucks and the real power lies.
So what does the Church of the Region (COTR) require of us unenlightened taxpayers, the laity that must be handled and propagandized and “educated” so that we get just a glimpse of that celestial light that is already seen so clearly by the clergy (those we thought we elected and were the bosses of)?
Just another penny’s worth of indulgences out of our flea-bitten pockets on top of the already pinching 6 cents that we currently offer at the altar of “representative” government.
But, hey! That penny of extra sales tax will result in the salvation of our (transportation) souls. The Vatican’s Chamber choirs will burst into rapturous songs of vehicular deliverance.
No matter that the indulgences will be spent on sacred trains and buses that will never be filled and that will require ever more added indulgences from here to eternity just to keep the unions happy and the empty trains running.
Our local Archbishop of Fayetteville, Ken Steele, has worked hard if covertly to funnel our Fayette dollars northward to Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties, and a Cardinal’s reward likely awaits him if he can deliver this ignorant bunch of lukewarm Fayette Republicans and their extra tax dollars into the Church of the Region’s offering plate.
The COTR knows who really loves it, and the true believers will be gathered together at the banquet table in the brand-new, regional T-SPLOST-funded, MARTA central transportation hub for a pork feast for the ages.
Now there are rumors of apostates in this 10-county COTR. What to do with these infidels who refuse to embrace the Gospel of Regionalism, who dare to oppose another penny of indulgence?
The bishops and archbishops say, “Let’s make them pay anyway, no matter how they vote within their quaint little county lines and political subdivisions. Let’s take their pitiful pennies and build our golden rails and drive our silver buses in all directions from the Holy City. Let them eat their futile ballots while we have our enlightened way, while we get things done, while we progress.”
Meantime, Pope Deal desires for the Church of the Region to become more ... governed. So Pope Deal will instruct his legislative cardinals in the General Assembly of the Region-born to draw up new Holy Words that will turn the ministers of the roundtable into anointed regional governors freed from the earthly bonds of elective office and shameful election year dependence upon the ignorant taxpayers to actually vote for them.
Then the enlightened can finally get on with the business of getting things done in the Region without having to worry about those ignorant taxpayers and voters.
In the End was the Word, and the Word was Regionalism.
And the pope and the cardinals and the archbishops and the bishops and the Chamber of Commerce choirs looked upon their new world and saw that it was good. Very good for them.
For the rest of us, not so good.
But at least those three “self-evident truths” of localism will have been exposed for the shams that they really were.
Thus endeth the parable.
[Editor and publisher Cal Beverly has been quaintly and provincially covering news in the Region and misunderestimating the holiness of government since 1969.]