May 7, 2008

On Political Power, Clout, and Compromise

When George Herbert Walker Bush was running for President, he made a promise that swept him into office:
And I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent, my opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I'll say no. And they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’

Of course, he did sign the largest tax increase in US history up to that time. It cost him much support during his administration, and utterly destroyed any chance at a second term in office.

Arguments have been made that he had to sign the bill into law in order to hold onto his political clout; after all, it was clear that Congress had the votes to override a veto. Presidents whose veto gets overridden, we are told, loses political power.

But the man made a promise, and the bottom line is he broke his promise. And people who break promises don't deserve any support from anybody.

Why am I bringing this up? Isn't this water under the bridge? No, not in light of recent events.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez made a promise to the people of Miami-Dade County. He promised that he would fight urban sprawl and stand against the corruption of out-of-control developers. And he faced his greatest test so far with the incredibly stupid request to move the UDB (Urban Development Boundary) farther west.

Despite the fact that State and County regulatory agencies recommended against the move, and a lack of support in the community, the clowns in our county commission voted to do it anyway. Alvarez warned that he would veto the move, and the overwhelming majority of jackals on the commission retorted that they would overrided.

They voted for the move. Alvarez vetoed it, and the Commission, unfettered by intelligence, common sense, or decency, overturned it.

Some might argue that this cost Alvarez some political capital; they would be wrong. The fact that Alvarez kept his word knowing that he would ultimately lose the battle only underscores the strength of his integrity and the courage of his convictions. When you give your word unequivocally, you can not compromise.

Plus, when the Commission is forced to spend tens of millions of dollars defending the lawsuits that are being filed as I write this, the guy who tried to stop them is going to be the one standing on the moral high ground.

Mayor Alvarez is absolutely correct when says that this defeat is Miami-Dade County's. And as long as Joe Martinez, Natacha Seijas, Audrey Edmonson, Rebeca Sosa, Dorrin Rolle, Bruno Barreiro, Barbara Jordan and Javier Souto continue to sit on the Commission, we will continue to be the losers.

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