In my post on the sucky-and-getting-suckier NBC show "The Event" last week, I remarked that I thought President Martinez was a Republican, given his apparently Cuban-Floridian heritage. This remarked sparked some controversy in the comments, as many thought the fact that the president was an African American who opposed torture made him axiomatically a Democrat.
Well, this week's episode ended all doubts. The vice president, a heavy-set white guy whom we know is of a different party than the president, sneered that Martinez only became president because of his Ivy League pedigree and charisma. Now, there's no shortage of Ivy League degrees or charisma on either side of the aisle, but only Republicans get offended by Democrats who have them. So I was wrong -- Martinez is clearly a Democrat.
Another tipoff is that the president is portrayed as kind of a good guy while the VP is a weasel. On pretty much any network but Fox, this is code for Democrat and Republican, respectively.
Unrelated question: Seth, for a while now, (partially because I'm from Chicago) I've been thinking about the role of sheriffs. Should we have elected sheriffs? Why do we have sheriffs? Does that office prepare them for higher office? Would it be better to exclude the job to people with backgrounds in law enforcement? What role do they play at the state government level in terms of politics?
Well, either that or the VP is LBJ.
Jon, this VP is too much of a tool to be LBJ. LBJ doesn't take orders from shady powerful men. He is the shady powerful man. And did LBJ have a problem with charismatic Harvard grads in general, or just JFK?
Daniel, it's not obvious to me which is the best way to go with sheriffs. An elected sheriff has his or her own power base and can't be fired by county leaders. That's a good thing if you see other county leaders as being too "political" and not caring about important things like fighting crime. It's a bad thing if the sheriff's a crazed authoritarian. You also have some of the mixed incentives of pleasing voters. e.g.: Strong interest in fighting crime and punishing criminals in a very public way, little interest in protecting civil liberties, etc.
I'm not sure what kind of a stepping stone job the sheriff's office is. I suppose that most of the heads of state police departments used to be county sheriffs.
I see. From what you say though it sounds like it would be better if the sheriff wasn't an elected official.
Don't get me wrong, I see the value in being impervious to the threat of being fired by higher ranking county officials, it's just that for every Sheriff Tom Dart out there there could easily be a Sheriff Arpaio i.e. an elected sheriff could easily be one of those corrupt county officials. And then, as you say, the sheriff could be a crazed authoritarian or/and he could be interested in higher office (as our Tom Dart* is) and thus make every arrest an unnecessarily ostentatious affair.
Then again, it seems to me that an elected sheriff's incentives (be a good, law-abiding, crime-crushing) cop is more likely to result in soemthing positive than negative so maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it is a good idea to have a county sheriff.
*It should be noted that Dart briefly ran in the Chicago mayoral race albeit unofficially and his name has appeared on numerous short lists for Illinois senator and congressmen.
*maybe it is a good idea to have an elected county sheriff.
After thinking about it more I think I'm for elected sheriffs. It's just one of those offices that voters should pay special attention to. But I get the sense that most voters don't think about the sheriff when they head to the voting booth.
The decentralization of law enforcement, with most of it vested in local governments responsible to elected officials, is a remarkable feature of American federalism and arguably a key part of our unwritten constitution that makes our society work for a whole lot of reasons.
It isn't manifestly obvious that an elected sheriff (who serves mostly rural areas) is better or worse than a chief of police responsible to elected municipal officials. The small size of a typical county commission (three members, typically with staggered elections and four year terms) makes it a less than idea body to regulate an elected sheriff, compared to a typically more representative city council, but at least the sheriff's job is one where the public understands the merits of what the job involves and the debate about policy issues in the election can inform the decision (Colorado requires training for elected sheriff's by the way, although many states do not. I have an inlaw who was just elected to be a sheriff in Vermont in 2010, where that is not required.) Being a sheriff involves far more discretion than many other elected offices.
If I were to remove elected officers and make them appointed, sheriff and DA would be last on my list.
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