Tom Fulks

In 2018, voters will get the government they deserve

The 3-2 majority of our county Board of Supervisors are peas in a pod with Donald Trump, with few policy accomplishments to show after a year in power and a predilection for radical disruption over reasoned public policy.

They detest American government. They’re lousy at governing. And, like Trump, the hard-right board majority of Lynn Compton, Debbie Arnold and John Peschong appear to disdain democracy.

We’ll find out in the 2018 elections if voters care.

Nationally and locally, Republican leaders deny objective truth and reality, reject unpleasant facts as “fake news” and create cloistered, alternate universes for themselves.

This poses a serious challenge for Democrats inclined to fact, science and honor. They’ll need to find an effective way to talk to voters in this Trump era of the Big Lie and its relentless degradation of democracy.

Complaining about the #Twittard in Chief and his political lickspittles isn’t enough to entice fence sitters and occasional voters.

The test for Democrats next year will be in motivating enough voters to cast ballots at all. Some 39 percent of San Luis Obispo County’s eligible voters didn’t vote in the June 2016 primary while 17 percent sat out the November general election.

Fertile campaign fodder for Dems in 2018 will be the gulf between the über wealthy and everyone else, exacerbated by the unpopular Republican tax bill which, over time, hikes taxes on the middle class to fund gobsmacking tax breaks for transnational corporations and the richest .01 percent.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders demand deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare to backfill the resultant $1.5 trillion added to the national debt.

Democrats must drop their impeachment jitters and tell voters exhausted from Trump Anxiety that innocent politicians don’t obstruct justice, nor do patriots praise foreign dictators while belittling the FBI and our intelligence community. Republicans can’t “own” the American flag anymore.

Trump’s ongoing self-dealing and abuses of power, the lawlessness being exposed in the Russia investigations, his attempts to neuter the justice system, and his deliberate assaults on the free press and government meritocracy are rich motivators for voter turnout.

So is Trump’s uncontrolled contempt for governing norms, the rule of law and his profound inability to grasp the most basic obligations of the presidency. He’s terrible at everything presidents do, from the easiest — like pretending to care about fires, floods and hurricanes — to the hardest, like consoling widows of fallen soldiers.

Worst of all, nothing he says can be trusted. All this aggregates to a level of disdain for American democracy that thoughtful Americans are morally obligated to oppose — assuming the nation survives until Election Day.

Trump’s local Mini-Me minions – Compton, Arnold and Peschong – emulate his governing ineptitude with destructive effect. For this they deserve vigorous resistance as well.

Pirate’s Cove, our iconic beach treasure, is tragically neglected and overrun by trash, graffiti, gawkers, drugsters and scoundrels.

Everyone wants it cleaned up, yet it wallows in waste, victimized by a cynical austerity conjured by Compton, teller of the tawdry re-election fable that her district’s been cheated of park money by coastal supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson.

Catering to Compton, the Mini-Me majority transferred the county’s entire park facilities budget to projects in Nipomo. Shamefully, it wasn’t enough money to turn a single spade of dirt anywhere in Nipomo, but it would have been enough to fix Pirate’s Cove.

Mismanaging money was a precursor to the Mini-Me’s incompetent handling of legalized cannabis, supported by 57 percent of county voters.

Formerly staunch defenders of freedom and commerce, their “demon weed” hysteria dismantled sound policy recommendations from their own planning commissioners and banned storefront sales, outdoor personal growing and some job-creating manufacturing activities. With those bans they foreswore the tax revenue necessary to enforce against black-market profiteers.

Like the disastrous federal “war on drugs,” this board’s cannabis policy is driven by irrational fear borne of policy ignorance and aggressive incuriosity.

Finally, they refused to address this county’s workforce housing crisis. This was in spite of an innovative increase in available funding and every major stakeholder — including builders — supporting action.

Like Trump, our Mini-Me supervisors wouldn’t recognize good public policy if it bit them on the backside.

Our parks rot because there’s no money to maintain them. Vital working families move away because housing is out of reach. Our local cannabis policies benefit no one but criminals.

Inept governance reigns in our nation’s Capitol and here at home. We get the government we deserve — the one we vote for.

Voting by mail begins May 7 for the June 5 primary election.

Liberal columnist Tom Fulks serves on the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee. His column runs every other Sunday, in rotation with conservative columnist Andrea Seastrand.

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