Does Anybody Read the Legislation?

Over in The Week, Ryan Cooper consists of two articles disparaging the Georgia legislature for the”voter suppression” legislation. We are to consider his description and evaluation on religion, just as he takes it on faith that the New York Times fairly represented the laws. Celebrities and politicians alike have denounced the legislation as”Jim Crow 2.0″ or, in one memorable instance, as”Jim Eagle.”
Georgia legislation SB202 has become a game of telephone. Composing articles in the Times in regards to the legislation demonstrates that the Times links to other articles they’ve written concerning the legislation, but not into the law . SB202 is a bit of writing, such as the Constitution or even the Bible, about that everybody has an opinion but few have actually read.
For the list, I have read the Georgia legislation because I try to devote myself to two fundamental principles of translation: to not have interpretive judgments concerning things I haven’t read, and to not assume the trustworthiness of others’ interpretations. How can we possibly know if a person’s interpretation is legitimate unless we can hold this up from our personal reading of the document ? Others might help stabilize the text, open up its significance, and also draw attention to things we’ve overlooked or our own errors, but only in a dialectic with our own reading. They can also willfully misread the text, bring in a set of ideological or partisan tastes that distort its significance, exaggerate its errors while overlooking its own virtues, or lead us astray. Indeed, they could willfully misread for functions of defeating enemies and advancing their own power.
Some years ago in my Modern Political Thought course, because we were discussing The Prince, I had a student pontificating on Machiavelli’s immoralism. Sheepishly, he admitted he had not. “Well then,” I replied,”that I truly don’t care what you think.” I had long told my students that their first obligation as readers was to understand the text and only afterward to leave decisions on it. But I saw then that I had misspoken; our primary obligation as readers was to–you know–really read.
It would be unthinkable to try and teach a book one has not read. Professors can identify quickly the students who have read the assigned reading and people who haven’t. Most people have sufficient self-awareness to not have opinions about books or movies they haven’t read; yet, if they do, to be eligible such opinions by saying”I have heard it is good” or even”I have heard it sucks.”
Only in politics, it appears, are we not only allowed but encouraged to get opinions concerning things of that we don’t have any direct knowledge. Truly, the further conducive our knowledge is, the stronger would be our opinions. This condition of affairs is contrary to a democratic ethos and will only lead to a deepening of those branches.
Aquinas mentioned that the legislation is the principle of reason promulgated by a legitimate authority, so that if law isn’t properly disseminated and clarified, it loses its validity. There are different methods for obscuring such promulgation. The legislation can be written thus theoretically and abstrusely that no ordinary citizen could be expected to comprehend them. The amount of legislation can be proliferated so it’s simply not possible to keep up with them all. The makers of the law can become so remote from people below the law’s influence the latter lose all track of what’s happening to them. Walter Lippmann explained democratic taxpayers as deaf audiences in the back of a theater who had a vague awareness of what’s happening, but may never truly make sense of it all. They believed their lives to be in the forefront of forces they could neither feel nor restrain.
The Georgia legislation isn’t the crisis; rather, the controversy within it points into the deeper, underlying catastrophe of republicanism and federalism.The failure to promulgate the legislation correctly is a significant problem in a democratic culture, particularly a democracy on the scale. Justice Thomas said that a sharecropper had a right to know what his Constitution supposed, which Justices were obligated to explicate in a way that this type of person could understand. Where taxpayers can not be reasonably expected to know or know the law, they can not be reasonably predicted to comply with it; and in which legislators or bureaucrats compose legislation nobody reads, the rulemakers cease to be answerable. The difference between lawmakers and taxpayers gets stuffed by a medium, by the press, with the effect that democracy becomes dependent on a trusted media because it plays this vital function.
No serious person in our current world could assert the media are all worthy of their confidence. We expect politicians both to pass and interpret legislation in a way that rewards their political and cultural pursuits. Does the Georgia legislation serve the electoral interests of those Republicans in the Georgia legislature that passed it? You would have to be naive to not think so. Does the hyperbolic hysteria one of the Democrats result in their electoral interests? Again, you would have to be naive to not think so. This is basic politics and is neither unexceptional nor particularly alarming, despite a few people being shocked–shocked! –to come across politics happening here.
But one would expect that somewhere in the mixture someone might actually read the legislation and do this in an fair-minded and fair way. Such hopes go unfulfilled. Most commentators, Ryan Cooper for instance, are thrice removed from this endeavor.
1 fundamental principle of representative government is that the majority of people are too busy living their lives to bother themselves with the everyday operations of government. In addition, in our federalist system, we are to concern ourselves mainly with the laws of our state. The controversy within the Georgia law isn’t simply an issue of legal hermeneutics, but shows a central crisis of both the republican and the federalist principles. To what degree needs to Georgia’s voter legislation be of concern to anyone not living in Georgia? To whom will be the Georgia legislators accountable? What’s the connection between legislative acts and the people who votes in these legislators? How can the connection between rulers and Republicans get distorted if the interpretive medium is occupied by bad-faith corporate actors motivated by profit or ideology? Truly, the corporations shown a callous disregard for the way their actions would affect the normal voter. Instead, they either served an ideological curiosity or attempted to gratify the caterwauling of a different group of elites attempting to maximize their energy. Perhaps you have reached the point Lippmann identified, called, and bemoaned some 90 years past of not having a working public at all?
I’ll do that in another essay. I write since the Georgia legislation isn’t the catastrophe; rather, the controversy within it points into the deeper, underlying catastrophe of republicanism and federalism. This crisis doesn’t admit of simple repairs. How we react to the Georgia statute could point the way into a restoration not only of republican and federalist principles, however, also the principle of law . Public and private actors may want to start with a straightforward hermeneutical principle: not have a political notion about a legislation you haven’t read. And then they may want to supplement with a political rule: do not get riled up by something which doesn’t concern you. Plato identified polypragmosyne (active about many things, or a species of not minding your own business) because a kind of injustice. We would all be better off if national officials, celebrities, pundits, and businesses stopped meddling in Georgia’s affairs. Indeed, we would be much better off even when they stopped using race cynically and stopped placing forth specious thought to advance their own endings. We may even replicate their echo chambers. “You didn’t really read the law, did you Mr. Cooper? Well then, I really don’t care what you think.”