Friday, March 13, 2015

OPINION: What Founders May Have Thought of Modern Politicians

Adam Meier, Fort Thomas City Council. FTM file. 
The author of the recent opinion article "Top Ky. senators weasel out of anti-smoking vote" (March 3) criticized some Kentucky legislators for taking steps to prevent a vote on the proposed statewide smoking. I, too, am critical of certain legislators related to their approach to the smoking ban legislation.

The majority of Northern Kentucky legislators are against the ban because it is a property rights issue, and those who invest and create the business should be able to decide what legal activities take place on their premises. The few who voted for the ban noted that they were previously against it but changed their mind based on calls from constituents, with one legislator commenting that he voted for it because his constituents "seem to be overwhelmingly for (a ban)."

It is important to note, however, that the proper role of an elected official is not merely to carry out the will of the majority of voters. Voting based solely on popular opinion is a poor approach to legislating – often a cop-out for those more concerned with re-election than effective governance. It is critical to remember that we are in a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy, and with good reason.


James Madison, the presumed author of Federalist No. 10, saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated for a representative democracy in order to protect individual liberty from majority rule. The smoking ban legislation is a perfect example of why our founders selected a constitutional republic form of government and not a democracy.

The right of a private business owner to allow a legal product on his/her privately owned property is a minority liberty interest, that is, a property right exercised by a small minority of business owners. But that is not good enough to the majority faction who prefer it banned everywhere in the state simply because they do not like it.

FA Hayek said: "The freedom that will be used by only one man in a million may be more important to society and more beneficial to the majority than any freedom that we all use." Otherwise stated, when you protect the freedoms of a few, you safeguard freedom for all. Today we are talking about smoking. But tomorrow we could be talking about the ban of some liberty you enjoy.

Certainly, our elected officials should listen to the concerns and opinions of their constituents. However, they should also methodically consider those opinions and weigh them against the minority liberty interest at issue – and protect those liberties and freedoms whenever possible. They should be our safeguard from the suppression of liberty from the majority. We are reminded of this premise in the Kentucky Bill of Rights, Section 2, which states that "Absolute and arbitrary power over the lives, liberty and property of freemen exists nowhere in a republic, not even in the largest majority."

When it comes to issues that affect the liberty interest of our citizens, I'd like to ask our legislators to keep all of these factors in mind when making a voting decision, not just the "majority opinion" of the voters.

Adam Meier is an attorney licensed in Kentucky and Ohio and a member of the Fort Thomas City Council. The views and opinions expressed here in this opinion editorial do not reflect the views or opinions of Fort Thomas Matters, it owners, writers, or editors. These are solely the ideas of the author.

8 comments:

  1. I am disappointed that Mr. Meier continues to advocate against the statewide smoking ban. The issue is not that those favoring the ban "just don't like it". The issue is that smoking is a public health issue. We enter restaurants every day with the expectation of minimum government health standards. We assume the food supply meets federal guidelines and is safe to consume. We assume water meets filtration and purity standards. We never question these things and yet there are still those who ignore medical facts on secondhand smoke and cite discounted studies or tobacco industry materials to cite their "right" to pollute the air that others must breath.

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    1. You are awarded 5 SJW (Social Justice Warrior) Points. You are now a Level 2 Internet Social Justice Warrior! you need 15 more SJW points to receive the Cloak of Nanny State.

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  2. By this logic, a daycare operator should be allowed to smoke on premises, and let the market determine if they can stay in business.. Or, a privately owned hospital.

    It's only a property rights issue if your head is stuck in the sand. Second hand smoke kills people. What about the employees? Should they be subjected to smoke, just to keep their jobs?

    Adam Meier.. if you want to run for the legislature, then feel free to do so.. but, since we elected you to city council, maybe you could concentrate on those issues that affect the city directly.

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    1. Registered RepublicanMarch 13, 2015 at 12:38 PM

      If you have followed what has occurred at the city level in the first three months of the year and only three months of this counsel's tenure, you would know that Meyer has done more in the 2 1/2 months since being on council than most do in 2 years.

      Look no further than the VA homes proposal that he put out.

      We have other council men that have devoted a lot more time to regional and state issues then Meyer. Adam chooses to do so publicly whereas others do it privately.

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    2. VA Homes? Fort Thomas issue.. I'm all for it.

      James Madison and the Constitution? Puh-leeze..

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  3. I agreed with Mr. Meier on his last article concerning the smoking ban but this one I am not sure about. The word "representative" means you are representing the views of your constituents. As an elected official you are the collective voice of those in your district or locale; to exercise the will of your constituents. This is political science 101. For example, if the majority of people in Ft. Thomas were against a smoking ban, and city council was considering a ban, Mr. Meier would be obligated to vote against the ban. Voting otherwise, perhaps on some personal belief or to appease those in Frankfort, would be contrary to the wishes of his constituents. Now, trying to persuade you constituents to see your point of view is perfectly fine and welcome. But at the end of the day the greatest display of a true elected official is when they put aside their personal beliefs and remember who elected them in the first place. I know Mr. Meier is new to politics and he is certainly bright, but taking the time to write a lengthy editorial criticizing those who changed their position after listening to their constituents -- truly has me baffled.

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    1. No, completely disagree. What you are describing is a true democracy. Our founders were way too smart to set our government up like that. It is incumbent upon our representatives to listen to their constituents and then make their decisions based on the independent research that they have done, taking into consideration our Constitution and local form of government.

      Meier is correct in this instance.

      PS: I have a degree in political science.

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  4. Amen. Finally a politician that gets it. The fort should consider themselves lucky to have him. Unfortunate the above commenters register anon. Not surprising, but unfortunate. Adam, thanks for putting your name on here.

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