by Bruce Price 12/10/13
Here’s the story of a man who decided: “This needs doing, and I’m doing it.” All too often, Congress (and the states) vote on bills that no one has read. Most infamously, Obama’s healthcare bill was 2400 pages long and we still don’t know what it says. Nancy Pelosi suggested, “We have to pass this bill so we can find out what’s in there.” For a long time, this has been common at all levels from city to federal.
Everyone agreed this practice was outrageous, undemocratic, un-American, and just plain unacceptable. But there wasn’t a rule anywhere that said you couldn’t do it.
And that’s where Jerrol LeBaron decided he was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore. Heretofore, LeBaron was a well-behaved denizen of Hollywood. He operated a website for script writers. He was not political. But enough is enough. He–single-handedly, armed only with a sense of righteousness and lots of optimism–would force politicians to conduct themselves at a higher level.
LeBaron’s idea was so elemental, the justice of his cause was so obvious, how could he fail? He would write up a short bill called Honor in Office, and present it to the country. Everyone would see that this was a wise innovation; and Congress (and the states) would turn this bill into law.
There was one problem. Congressional people (and politicians generally) don’t like to be told what to do. They especially don’t want to be forced to read bills with hundreds or even thousands of pages.
LeBaron’s bill also demanded that We The People should have the right to see the final versions of every bill long before the vote. So we know exactly what Congress is up to. (Note that Obama promised that his bills would be posted on the Internet five days before the vote. He broke this promise.)
LeBaron had worked in the construction industry, then owned a jewelry store, and now he was running InkTip.com, which helps writers and producers connect. For some reason this wasn’t enough and Jerrol LeBaron decided he would buy a van and spend many months touring the country and collecting signatures on behalf of his crusade.
He had little money. He started in North Dakota because it’s a small state population-wise and he had a better chance of getting something on the ballot. He knew almost nobody.
He had created a website called HonorInOffice.org. where people can learn about his proposal. And once he’d been on tour for a while, he decided he could produce a good documentary, to be called Fools on the Hill, which premiered in December, 2011 (foolsonthehillmovie.com).
Here we come to a remarkable statistic. LeBaron visited every congressional office in the country. That would be 535 offices.
All of this was done because Jerrol LeBaron thought that our leaders shouldn’t vote on bills they hadn’t read. Here was something that needed fixing and he was going to fix it. Nobody was pushing him, or even encouraging him. He decided he would be a citizen activist in the finest tradition and put himself on the line. Way out on the line.
I had placed some scripts on LeBaron’s site and still got announcements. Suddenly, circa 2009, I started receiving updates about something entirely different, Honor in Office. At this point I’ve been following the project for about three years, both bemused by the quixotic aspects and impressed by his perseverance.
Sent questions about how he judges his progress, LeBaron answered: “Most of this crusade was a learning experience. This is the first time I’ve ever done a march on Congress. We did visit every single congressional office. We did have tour buses specifically pass by our demonstration and slow down so that everybody could read the signs. However, in terms of really making a dent in getting Congress to actually do their jobs, I have a lot more work to do.”
I then asked if he knew then what he knows now, would he have started in the first place?
“I knew it was going to be very difficult from the start. I didn’t realize it would be extremely difficult if not almost impossible. And yes, I would have started it anyway. It has to be done and somebody has to do it. So, I am doing it.”
Finally, I asked what is the single best accomplishment to come out of this crusade?
“Visiting every single congressional office and letting them know what we expected. It was very interesting. When we would visit the office and tell them why we were there, word spread like wildfire through the office! So there was some impact. Just not enough.”
Honor in Office continues. Check out the videos, etc. and if you like what LeBaron is doing, join his campaign.
An unforgettable aspect, of course, is that a single solitary US citizen decided, I’m going to change the country all by myself. Then what do you know? He actually followed through. He tried. He is trying now.
Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org • (1445 views)