by Marion Marks
Taking the mantle of a somewhat serious journalist is to recognize that you will be labeled an “odd person.” Your primary journalistic task is to question the actions and being of people who make decisions that change our world by interrogating their pivotal acts and stating publicly that a generally accepted policy or action of a leading citizen deserves greater public scrutiny. To the end that you are willing to even raise questions, you must be secure enough in your person and your interrogative style that you will often stand against popular platforms and elected officials. You must appear to be a grump or even a foul public entity in the eyes of various community segments. It comes with the territory.
Being inquisitive or demanding answers can be seen as blasphemous because you demand that others should also be extroverts in your discontent with the status quo. In questioning the system you must be open-minded and often incredulous to facts that cause you to demand that revelations will support your inquisitiveness.
There’s reason that our work is animated with sarcasm and sharp graphics that may bring chuckles and sometime joy for readers. Our belief is that there are almost always better ways to address issues or causes we accept as a challenge. Dissatisfaction with the way something is or has been done is not a condemnation of the system as a whole, it’s merely pointing out, often in as positive a way as possible, that there are alternatives that should be considered.
Our condemnations of Donald Trump are not and should not be considered a 100% disavowal of every word he says, even though far too many of his words give us pause. Trump has harnessed an anger, in much the same way Bernie Sanders has, that there are always portions of the democratic process that could and should be improved. One of the greatest supportive platforms of the American governmental system is that the Constitution accepts that change was, is, and should be ingrained in our rule of law. This is the basis for the initial amendments, the Bill of Rights.
Only with the Bill of Rights would the original document have been palatable to all of the thirteen originally independent states. Both Trump and Sanders point out flaws in the system that deserve greater scrutiny as well as broader discussion at the political conventions and on the floor of congress. The power of “Big Money” in the electoral system cannot be overstated. And, yes, the system is built around protection of the status quo, but often this is for the better. Too many “fad” campaigns pop up and fizzle because they are too often based on single issues or lack full vetting and prove they cannot stand the test of time.
As both Trump and Sanders have raised important issues and engaged new citizens in the political process, their vetted constructive platform issues should receive a thorough hearing and those new voters must be engaged to remain in the discussion. But, the issues that have not been fully vetted and the issues that do not pass the American system analysis must be called out for the unacceptable ideas that often engage splinter voters who can’t see through the smoke and mirrors candidates use.
Too many sharp political campaign slogans just need to be dropped because they are no more than campaign rhetoric. The “Wall” Trump wants at the Mexican border is really better enforcement of existing laws along with stopping the unimpeded crossings of undocumented non-American citizens.
Trump and Sanders have added much to the process, but it’s time to recognize where the two parties stand as far as putting together platforms and choosing candidates. If the Republican Party really runs Donald Trump as their candidate, the mantle of “The Apprentice” will take on a whole new meaning. And Bernie Sanders, the avowed socialist, will redefine the left-wing of the Democrat Party if his principle campaign issues gel in the accepted platform.
As for asking questions, we will continue asking local and regional questions, requesting clarification from our elected leaders. We hope the forum of April 21 regarding Issues of the Louisiana Indigent Defense System will educate citizens and extend the discussion regarding justice, funding and the system as it exists today. Details regarding the forum are below.
The Shreveport Times, along with the Shreveport Bar Association, LSUS, and Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts, present a panel discussion on the impact of decreasing funding for the Indigent Defenders Office and its impact on the courts and local judicial system.
Date & Time: Thursday, April 21, 7:00 – 8:30PM
Location: LSUS Science Auditorium
Confirmed panelists include:
Pamela Smart, Caddo Parish Public Defender
James T. Dixon, Jr., Louisiana State Public Defender
Honorable Brady O’Callaghan, District Judge, First Judicial District Court, Caddo Parish
Honorable James E. Stewart, Caddo Parish District Attorney
Mark A. Cunningham, President, Louisiana State Bar Association
Honorable Sam Jenkins (schedule permitting), Louisiana House of Representatives, District 2
M. Thomas (Tom) Arceneaux, Shareholder and Director, Blanchard, Walker, O’Quin & Roberts