As part of his embarrassing Election-Night meltdown that’s garnering national attention, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, encouraged Democrats to find a Republican to thump over the head with a Bible the next morning.
After admitting he didn’t know whether Jesus was a Democrat or Republican, Stumbo astutely observed “Mary did not ride an elephant into Bethlehem that night” before calling on fellow partisans at the Frankfort Convention Center to “get up with me in the morning” and “go to the church and challenge those people about values and morals and talk about the things that this party was built upon.”
It was desperate and very different from what happened—and didn’t happen—in Louisville where Gov.-elect Matt Bevin called on supporters to “take the high road” and “reach out to somebody you know was on the other side of this particular battle, this particular political equation.”
The difference might offer clues about why Bevin crushed Stumbo’s Democratic Party, winning 107 of 120 counties with an 85,000-vote margin.
It also indicates why the GOP is experiencing the kind of momentum for the 2016 campaign for House seats that the Kansas City Royals experienced beginning about the seventh inning of every World Series game—no matter how far behind they were.
Still, I find common ground with Stumbo on a couple of statements.
First, he said “there’s a dawn tomorrow that’s going to be brighter and better and bigger and more hopeful than maybe anything we could” before garbling the rest of his sentence.
I agree with the understandable part.
It’s as if Kentuckians are stirring out of a long slumber and beginning to regain the realization that they—not government, politicians, bureaucrats or lawyers—are constitutionally empowered and really can determine their own destinies.
I saw that in Shelbyville right before the election, where citizens filled their city council’s meeting room to protest a proposed 3 percent restaurant tax.
Restaurant owners along with other merchants and citizen-taxpayers of all political stripes came together and caused the proposed tax—scheduled for a final reading that night—to disintegrate right in front of us.
Like the mountains in Stumbo’s eastern Kentucky enclave, it’s a beautiful site to witness people using their power—especially when doing so fully annoys arrogant politicians and unelected bureaucrats trying to extract yet more money from the same hardworking taxpayers they’re called to serve rather than exploit.
The council heard from people who woke up and said: “It’s a new day. We’re taxed enough already; besides, we don’t even know what the revenue from this tax will be used for. All we know is that it will be some ‘tourism-related’ project.”
City council member Bobby Adriot had the audacity to claim that half the revenue raised would “go to the council and half would be tourism’s money,” referring to a likely illegal deal made by the council to split the monies in half with the local tourism commission.
State law requires all restaurant-tax revenue be used only for tourism-related projects.
“It’s your money,” the council member said at one point to the tourism-commission’s representative.
Uh. No sir, it’s not. It’s not her money, and it’s certainly not some unelected tourism-bureaucrat’s money.
It’s the people’s money, and you have no right to take it away from them—especially when no one even knows how it will be spent.
Second, Bevin’s political comeback is living proof of the absolute shininess of another Stumbo gem: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down in a ballgame; it’s how fast you get up.”
Chances are, after baptizing his concession sermon in sour-grapes juice, the Speaker may get a chance to test that advice himself following next year’s election.
Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at email@example.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.