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Valera explains reason for absence


Monday, August 06, 2018 9:13AM
Reason for absence

To the editor:

During my first year in the Legislature, I had an excellent attendance record. But during that year, I came to realize that the Legislature spends most of its time contemplating bills that it has no legitimate power to enact, because they are clearly in conflict with the written state constitution. (Particularly Article 8, which says that if you couldn’t hire someone to do something for you, you can’t elect him to do it for you either.)

I routinely voted “no” on these bills. But there’s a problem: even voting “no” implies that I could be voting “yes.” Participating in the process legitimizes it.

Until the legislature allows members to vote “yes,” “no,” or “improper” on a bill, there’s no way for any representative to sit in one of those seats and press either of those buttons without violating his oath of office – although many of them do not yet realize that.

I do realize it, and I take my oath seriously, which is why I show up only for votes where the legislature seeks to exercise a legitimate power. On those occasions, I vote in a way that I believe is consistent with views of the people who elected me.

But let me put it very simply. Suppose each district had to elect a representative, whose job was then to go down to Concord occasionally to participate in a mass fight, a rumble, where two gangs try to beat each other up. I hope that Mr. Miller, upon reflection, would agree that the best way for me to represent him would be to refuse to participate.

But that’s basically the situation I’m in whenever the Legislature meets. The difference is, the gangs aren’t trying to beat each other up. They’re trying to beat my constituents up, by stealing their money, liberty and their property. The fact that they dress in suits instead of leather jackets, and use parliamentary maneuvers instead of knives and chains, doesn’t change the nature of the transaction, or the end result.

By staying away, I’m saying, on behalf of the people who elected me: We choose not to pretend that government should be in the business of taking our rights away. As Jefferson said, government is formed for the purpose of protecting our rights.

I hope this clears things up.

Rep. John J. Valera

Hillsborough District 38