The educated voter and some education from a state rep

UPDATE: In the original version of this post the author wrote with a misunderstanding of Rep. Jason Smith’s questions of the Governor’s power to appoint successors in vacant statewide offices. We appreciate Rep. Smith’s courtesy in calling attention to a more accurate description of his position and of his legislation.  In doing so he has cast new light on an issue we discuss and raised a new question. — Bob Priddy

We’re working on making a connection here. It involves the concept of the educated voter, a cherished part of the American tradition and a state representative surprised that he didn’t know something that we would bet a lot of other people don’t know either. Join us as we wander through this process.

First we have Senator Chuck Purgason of Caulfield who thinks educated voters can do a better job of determining the ethics of public office-holders than the office-holders can.  As the Senate began discussing the ethics reforms bill put forth by Senator Charlie Shields, Purgason argued that the effort ultimately would prove futile because scofflaws would find ways around whatever standards are set within three years.  The responsibility for honest government, he argued, rests with the informed voter.

Purgason’s trust in the informed voter, however, goes only so far.  He thinks term limits are still a good idea although the term limits law keeps informed voters from having a chance to send their state legislators back for more terms after eight years in the House or Senate if they want to do so.  (We’re posting an interview with him at the end of this blog.)

Shields argues that his bill is designed to minimize temptations for office-seekers and their backers, and office-holders and those who court them.  He also says his bill will help voters become better educated because it will make the records of campaign financing more open.,

Here’s the problem:  You can lead a voter to information, but you can’t make him think. Continue reading