I'm Elected Governor, Here's how I Would Like Things to Be Different
When I Leave Office
Tom Lowe May 9, 2007
civic club, while it existed, invited gubernatorial candidates to speak
and answer questions every four years. I asked the same question of
each candidate, and I'm disappointed to report that not only was a
satisfactory answer not forthcoming, but usually the candidate avoided
answering the question at all. Before the last election, I asked the
question of Haley Barbour and he never even attempted to answer it.
you are elected governor, how do you expect the State of Mississippi to
be different when you leave office four or eight years from now?
is a perfectly legitimate question. Even though my civic club ceased
meeting many years ago, the question is seldom
asked, and, I would wager, never answered.
candidates, as a practical matter, do not like deep, searching
questions, because most of them are not deep, searching people. The
personality structure of a person desirous of elected office is not
conducive to reflection. Successful politicians may have doubts, but
they do not display them to the public and they do not dwell upon them
themselves. The very desire for political power precludes deep
In an effort to get the
discussion rolling, I'm reversing the roles and pretending that I am a
gubernatorial candidate whom a civic club member has asked If you are elected governor, how
you expect the State of Mississippi to be different when you leave
office four or eight years from now?
I would want there to be more
singing, more dancing, more music,
and more poetry read aloud
in public places;
I would want
Mississippians to think of themselves
more as citizens,
I would hope that there
would be fewer prisons and fewer prisoners,
incarcerated for victimless crimes;
would want Mississippi to have an effective public health system,
a strong emphasis on preventive medicine,
system that would assure
that all would receive adequate
irrespective of their ability to pay.
would hope that the police would be less prone to violence
respect the persons they are pledged to protect,
they would receive more respect from the people they serve.
would like to see us waste less and
reuse and recycle what we
I would like to see a generation
of young people
asking us awkward and embarrassing questions
no one is supposed to be asking,
and demanding that we
answer them honestly,
"Why are we
locking up more people
than any other country in the world?"
would like to see land taxed more and improvements taxed less,
encourage more efficient use of land
and lessen the demand
upon our municipalities for services;
would like to see more resources devoted to the public schools,
are now underfunded and poorly staffed;
would like to see the arts promoted
as one of the highest
rather than as an economic activity to bring
I would like to see a people a
little less materialistic,
a little less inclined
would like for Mississippians to live closer to their jobs,
that they drive less,
in smaller vehicles
more fuel-efficient than they are now;
would want there to be more opportunity for everyone,
therefore, as the economists would say,
I would want there to
be higher opportunity cost for crime,
so that people will have
something to lose—
a good job,
the respect of their
their plans for the future
I would like to see the diverse
parts of our society,
especially blacks and whites,
more mutually beneficial connections,
so that our diversity
the foundation of our strength;
would hope that by the time I leave office
every policy and
would be measured against the following
1. How does it affect the land?
is no substitute for land.
Our health is ultimately dependent
the health of the land,
and its freedom from contaminants.
irreplaceable and destructible.
We depend upon it for our
both physical and spiritual.
We came from
it; we will return to it.
Without it, nothing else we do or
will make as much difference to our destiny.
How does it affect the most vulnerable of our people:
mentally ill, and
those in prison?
measure of our worth,
not whether the strong and powerful thrive
but how we treat those
place their hands
upon the levers of power and
them to their own advantage.
3. How does
it affect the general welfare?
Laws and policies
that benefit the few
at the expense of everyone else
little more than legalized robbery.
does it affect the seventh generation?
was asked by many Native American peoples.
Because of a our
immediate return on investment,
discounting future cash flows,
the future itself.
be paid to the seventh generation
has very little net present
just as a loss of a dollar
is virtually no net present loss.
no net present moral value, however,
that allows us to discount
obligation to future generations.
From the beginning
we have been spared this moral dilemma
the earth was large
in comparison to our ability to change it.
we call "the economy"
is now quite large
the economy of the biosphere, and
can no longer pretend
that what we do does not matter.
Is it just?
This question encompasses
previous four, but it also includes
matters of fairness,
equity, and balance
that make it an important,
requirement of any law or policy.
Is it gentle?
Harsh laws make harsh people.
harshest punishments make
the most hardened criminals.
strictures of the law should be easy
for the proper ordering
Montesquieu observes that nations with the
invariably promote the greatest liberty
for their citizens.
Copyright (c) 2007 by
Thomas Lowe. Published in the Jackson Progressive.
is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States