People who seek political office often leave quite a paper trail.
Take Don Wagner, the perpetually peevish and prickly SOCCCD trustee. Two years ago, he ran for a seat in the State Assembly, 70th District. (See map.) Wagner poured forth an impressive amount of verbiage during that campaign. (He lost, receiving 15% of the vote among several candidates.) It is archived by “Smart Voter” --Wagner for Assembly.
Much has happened in the past two years. Back in 2004, Bush and all things Bushy--you know: our Iraq adventure, sending people abroad to be tortured, assaulting civil liberties--were riding high, but now, well, not so much. Back then, the “illegal immigration” issue was on the back burner. Now, its hot, hot, hot.
It's fun to look back at what people said before things started changing.
If you go to the above site, you'll find much Wagnerian verbiage. In a lengthy essay entitled “Five Things I Will Do in Sacramento,” trustee Don displays his Libertarian tendencies, as when he argues that
The legislature must recognize that parents know best how to raise their children, and that parents care more for their kids than do bureaucrats. I will ceaselessly work to … free parents to educate, discipline, and instill values in, California's children. I will not support any piece of legislation that undermines parental authority and control over their children.
Unsurprisingly, Don embraces “local control”:
As a local government official, I know that local governments are closer to the people they serve, know better the problems of their local jurisdictions, and can best respond flexibly and appropriately to solve those problems. They should be empowered by Sacramento, not stripped of power, money, and authority….
Don rails against “Phony ‘Civil Rights’ Laws” that protect “cross-dressers” and laws that “harass the Boy Scouts.”
“I will not sit quietly,” he says. “I will oppose further enactment of the liberal agenda….”
Wagner’s answers to a campaign questionnaire are sometimes interesting. “What,” he is asked, will he “do to stop illegal immigration and its economic effects in California”?
“We should deport illegal aliens when and where found,” says Don. As you know, President Bush offers a very different answer.
Don’s a great believer in guns. In fact, in Don World, the good guys oughta have more of ‘em: "I would try to greatly expand the right of law abiding citizens to carry weapons.”
Greatly expand? I do believe Don wants us to wear holsters, boots, and Stetsons!
Like many conservatives, Wagner is especially concerned about the specter of homosexuality. He is definitely against sex education and the promotion of the “pro-homosexual agenda” in public schools.
At one point, Wagner is asked, Do you support same sex marriage? He offers a snappy answer, sure to annoy:
"Then it isn't ‘marriage,’ now is it?"
I like Don, but he just doesn't get how annoyed at his audience--and thus annoying--he often seems.
In the questionnaire, Don again emphasizes the value of local control. And so he supports the “right of communities to require curricula with greater studies of”—are you ready?—here goes:
The U.S. Constitution, the role of religion in American life, traditional values, honest U.S. history, the founding fathers in greater dimension tha[n] mere "slave owners," appreciation for the cultural and political traditions of our country, patriotism, gun safety[.] [He says “yes” to the preceding.]
Don’s a great one for discipline. "Corporal punishment in the lower grades works,” he asserts.
Spanky--er, Don--sees himself as a Warrior. Is there a culture war in the U.S. today? “Yes,” says Corporal (and corporeal!) Don. If so, then “What side are you on?”
His answer is a tour de force:
"I am on the side that thinks ‘under God’ belongs in the pledge of allegiance and that it's all right to wish people ‘Merry Christmas,’ but that free speech does not include burning the flag or dancing in the nude.
"I am on the side that did not scoff when Ronald Reagan spoke of a ‘shining city on a hill’….
"On my side of the culture war, mom and dad and kids…are esteemed such that public policy is made first and foremost to protect them.
…"I believe public schools should be permitted to give out aspirin, but not condoms, and that bananas belong in the cafeteria, not in ‘health class.’
…”I am on the side of the culture war that believes Teddy Kennedy should do time for Chappaquidick and that Bill Clinton should do time for Juanita Broderick, perjury, illegal campaign fund raising from China...
"My side of the culture war thought that the first term of the Clinton Administration was … a disaster. There was nothing to like about his positions on gays in the military, nationalization of the health care industry, opposition to welfare reform that took a Republican Congress to finally achieve, …the incineration of children in Waco, …stonewalling on Vince Foster, missing Rose Law Firm billing records, … sale of the Lincoln Bedroom, ad nauseam.
…"Those on my side of the culture war believe that with rights come responsibilities, and that you have a right to build on your own property even if a snail darter or some such endangered vermin happens to live on it, a right to pack a gun, and the right to live free of an oppressive nanny state. You also have a responsibility to care for yourself and your family, and to exhaust every effort to do so before asking the government for a handout. Personal responsibility and self reliance [sic] are more highly regarded on my side of the culture war than are feelings and groupthink.
"My side of the culture war laughs at the hypocracy [sic!] of the left when it says we care about children only until they are born, when in fact it is our side that also opposes euthanasia, the left's creeping culture of death, the killing of Terry Schiavo….”
Don’s not finished! In a “separate statement,” he explains that
…I have volunteered for the GOP for years, ...served on a legal committee to stop liberal election day shenanigans…I was also the founder of the Orange County Chapter of the Federalist Society, a nationwide organization of lawyers, law professors, and judges. The Federalist Society has now replaced the leftist American Bar Association as chief outside advisor to the Bush Administration in its nomination of federal judges.
Near the end of this statement, Wagner touches on his role as Savior of our district. Ready?
When I was elected to guide a troubled college district, its finances were under State scrutiny, enrollment was flat, accreditation was in jeopardy, and campus dissension was widespread. Today, all that is past. The district's finances are robust. We are building new facilities without tax increases or incurring bond debt. Accreditation has been reaffirmed. Enrollment is up. Hard work, a commitment to educational excellence, and fiscally conservative leadership have led to a district renaissance.
—A renaissance? A freakin' renaissance!! I DON'T THINK SO, DON.
(All emphases added.)