The past few weeks have seen a flurry of netroots activity focused on the unsuitability of Jim Black for a leadership role in the state legislature. In the course of that flurry, many of you were in touch with your representatives in the House to find out how they planned to vote. From all I've heard, a few members were forthcoming about their intentions, but many more were not. Several offered thoughtful responses I interpreted along the lines of "let them eat cake." No one said this outright, but this is what I took away:
The citizens of North Carolina elect their representatives. The representatives elect the Speaker. It is not constructive for the citizens to get involved in the issue of who will be speaker.
To which I respectfully respond: Bullshit. Choices about leadership in the North Carolina House of Representatives in Raleigh are absolutely the business of citizens like you and me, for one simple reason: All of these people work for us.
I'm sure the good old boys and girls on both sides of the aisles in Raleigh wish for the days when none of us little people had any visibility into their back-room wheelings and dealings. Even worse, we had no easy way to be in touch with one another to figure out what was going on. We couldn't mobilize quickly to oppose or support legislation. And with all our knowledge mediated by reporters in the main stream media, the slimy side of power-brokering was all but invisible to us.
A lot of that is still true, but it is changing. And we must push for it to change even faster, for even more transparency. Because a "free-market" political system where the moneyed elite exert disproportionate influence by buying access is fundamentally undemocratic.