In Alaska, current majority caucus rules are set up in a manner to sequester and control the outcome of a vote. If a representative votes NO against the “RULE,” it is incumbent on the administration of the caucus to act swiftly to deliver the disciplinary actions against the rogue representative to set an example to hold others in line who might consider a vote of personal conviction. One can argue the degree of discipline will determine the “managed control” going forward. One can also argue that there is a difference between discipline and abuse.
As Ayn Rand so eloquently stated, “Individual rights are not subject to a public vote. A majority does not have the right to vote away the rights of a minority. The political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities, and the smallest minority on earth is the individual.”
Further, as we look broader at the inspiration of our US Constitution, it was clearly written to protect the rights of the individual. It is the foundational basis of our belief in the sovereign rights of the individual. This is what makes our
Constitution unique and a shining example to all the countries of the world.
So, given this premise, are caucus rules which take away individual representative rights for the purpose of “timely management” justified? Is the “RULE” more important?
One must clearly ask, when is a vote not a vote?
Regarding the finances of the State, one would only consider that this is essentially the most important vote a representative can make during the session, for this vote determines our financial future.
One can argue that the “RULE” is justified, for a representative relinquishes their individual rights to “join the club” and enjoy all the benefits of membership.
One could argue that if a member of the club violates the “membership agreement” that their membership rights should be terminated, but certainly there is a moral and legal question regarding the retaliation against such “RULE.”
One can also argue that an orderly, efficient flow of legislation regarding the budget is in order to necessitate a “limited timeframe” and this is the essential mechanism of the “RULE.”
Well, consider this…
The “principles” set forth by the Majority Caucus state:
1. To live within our means
2. To save for future generations
3. Identify core government functions
4. Establish priorities for a long- range plan
Given these principles, reality clearly demonstrates that Representative Reinbold was following the principles of the majority caucus when she cast a “NO” vote.
Reality clearly demonstrates that the “RULE” is, to a great extent, why we are in our current and continuing financial mess. Is this contrary to the “principles” set forth by the Majority caucus? The House vote passed a limited decrease in spending while we have experienced a dramatic decrease in oil revenues in one year. Based on House figures, there is a $3 billion dollar deficit. Does this address the “principles” of the Majority caucus? Is the “RULE” more important?
In this Kangaroo court, presided over by a select few, did they consider “cruel and unusual punishment” for the perceived violator? Is the “RULE” more important?
Is the effective representation of a constituent base on trial here as well? Does the “RULE” supersede representation?
Also, reality currently demonstrates that losing your “membership” in the club, means that disciplinary action, or financial abuse will fall on your entire legislative staff immediately. The current “administrative caucus team” presiding over the discipline in Juneau reminds me of the movie “Spartacus” where all the associated legions were crucified.
Speaker Chenault recently stated on a local radio talk show that he is a big man and he can bear the burden of the attacks against his leadership.
It certainly takes fortitude to master over the “burning fields” of a rogue representative. It takes personal internal fortitude to assault the messenger in spite of the message.
Additionally, the Speaker stated that they must be very careful with the budget because people’s jobs are at stake. When was it the main function of state government to provide employment as a top priority over sound fiscal policy?
Who is really on trial here? Is it Representative Reinbold who stands firm against massive expenditures or Speaker Chenault who kicks the financial can down the road toward a raid of every Alaskan’s PFD?
Which representative is addressing reality for the better interest of Alaskans? Is the “RULE” more important?
Well, I ask the Speaker this…
When you go home at the end of the day with those big shoulders holding onto your burden of leadership, do you think for one moment, the severity of your punishment against Representative Reinbold and her constituents, but moreover, about those individual staff members, charged with the spirit of service to our state, who have lives filled with the financial burdens of family and the expenses of maintaining a living? Do you think for one moment regarding the burden they have sir? Is your burden more than the one you levied on them because you felt obligated to make a swift example of their associations with Representative Reinbold? And word in the street has it that you gave orders to all representatives to “stay away” from hiring her staff. If this is true, I must warn you, this may be a personal labiality issue. Is the “RULE” more important?
Are your burdens less restrictive because you have Representative Charisse Millett and Representative Craig Johnson by your side to administer the punishment and spin the news cycle against the messenger? Is the “RULE” more important?
Through this all, Representative Chenault, with your 7 sessions of presiding over the House and previous Co-Chair positions on the House Finance committee, there is no single person in Alaska who is more responsible than you regarding the financial mess we are in. You presided over the extreme largess of government, but then you hold Representative Reinbold in contempt as she stands alone against this financial abuse. Is the Rule more important?
In conclusion, in your own justifications, you think you are able to ride the wave of dissent, regarding your overt discipline of Representative Reinbold, but you can never cover your actions against her staff. Those actions sir, are reprehensible. They are not the actions of a leader. They are the actions of a tyrant mastering over the “RULE.” Alaskans deserve better.