The Pageant of Democracy

The Journal sent me to the Albuquerque City Council meeting last night. This is representative democracy at the very retail level. It was a hoot.

There was a time in my career where I spent many a night covering the pageant, from the Walla Walla city council meetings and the school board, to Pasadena. In many ways it was what first drew me to the business. Reporters love to whine about having to cover government meetings (and I whined too, of course), but deep down I have always loved them.

Here’s why.

At last night’s meeting there were a bunch of people from the arts community, pitching for a new sliver of sales tax. The conductor of the symphony spoke, and a buddy of mine who tries to make movies for a living.

There was a group of guards from the jail, with their wives and husbands and little baby boys and girls, there to ask the council for some sort of improvement in their health care benefits.

There were anti-nuclear activists concerned about radioactive waste (that’s why I was there). And to counter them, some technical types who think the waste in question is safe.

And there was this, uh, interesting woman who spoke on pretty much every issue before the council, tieing them all to the illegitimacy of the federal government and the true righteousness of the Free Republic (I’m a little unclear on the details here, the Freemasons are also somehow involved, she was a bit hard to follow).

Everyone got to say their piece, and the council gave some what they wanted and disagreed with others, but it was all passionate and genuine and so very face-to-face.