Every government degenerates when
trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore,
are its only safe depositories.
—Thomas Jefferson, Virginian, 3rd U.S. President, statesman, philosopher,
inventor, architect, farmer and founder of The University of Virginia.
The 140 ladies and gentlemen who constitute the
100-member House of Delegates and the 40-member Senate of Virginia will
convene at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 14, to consider thousands of proposed
changes to the Commonwealth’s laws, including bills
that may impact your electric cooperative, your
community, or your profession.
Virginia’s legislature, of course, is
the oldest continuous democratic body in the Western Hemisphere, and despite
long centuries of practice, the process works well ONLY if the
Commonwealth’s citizens are involved and invested in the decisions that
are being made by our elected officials.
Toward that end, your electric
cooperative has for 20 years now been publishing an annual Virginia
Legislative Guide and making it available within the folds of Cooperative
Living magazine, and the 2009 edition you’ll find herein awaits your
review and usage. Legislators’ mail and e-mail addresses,
and phone and fax numbers, are included in the guide.
For those with computer connectivity, please consider also going for more information
to the General Assembly’s Web site, http://legis.state.va.us/. But whether
through e-mail or postal mail, or by telephone, fax machine or in-person
visit, please be sure to stay in touch with your legislators on the issues
important to you, your family and your community.
The progress of democracy seems
irresistible, because it is the most uniform, the most ancient, and the most
permanent tendency which is to be found in history.
— Alexis de Tocqueville, 19th-century French political thinker, historian
and author of Democracy in America.
A new presidential administration and a
new Congress begin work later this month in
Washington, in the midst of domestic and international challenges that will
test American ingenuity and resolve, tests that Americans have always
passed, and will surely do so this time as well. Among the many important
measures that Congress will be considering are the development of a national
energy policy, and consideration of climate-change legislation.
This nation’s 900-plus electric
cooperatives — serving 40 million member-owners spread across 47 states
— are on record in support of a broad-based energy policy that is
consumer-friendly while achieving realistic environmental goals. The issue
of climate change clearly needs to be examined in the context of this larger
discussion of energy policy, as Congress works to build what we hope will be
an energy road map that will guide our nation for decades to come. Indeed,
it would be painful and problematic for all of us if, instead of doing so,
Congress drove hastily toward a temporary outpost that failed to address
both the environment AND the economy, the requirements of large industries
AND those of average folks, and the need for additional conservation AND for
construction of additional generating capacity.
All of this constitutes a tall order.
And it’s an order that can only be met if our elected officials hear
early, clearly and often from the men and women back home who elected them.
You and me.
Along these lines, as we discussed
several times in these pages last year, we strongly encourage you to take
part in a national effort entitled, “Our Energy, Our
Future — A Dialogue with America,” organized by
this nation’s member-owned electric cooperatives. Please go to a special
Web site, www.ourenergy.coop, and let your House member and Senators Jim
Webb and Mark Warner know that you want Congress to make decisions that will
ensure that our electric supply remains reliable, affordable, and
Throughout our 75-year history, electric
cooperatives have addressed and overcome challenges large and small, with a
grassroots, consumer-friendly approach that mirrors the fact that our
customers are also our owners. So, please, join with us as we work with our
elected officials in Richmond and in Washington, seeking reasonable
solutions to the complex problems that face us. By doing so, you’ll add to
the democratic right of electing these officials the wondrous grassroots
power of making your voice heard in their deliberations.
Of the many things we have done to democracy in the past, the worst has been
the indignity of taking it for granted.
— Max Lerner, 20th-century American
author and newspaper columnist.