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When your intentions are good but you misunderstand what’s going on

August 5, 2018

Rep. Randy Armstrong

I think that generally a person runs for political office because they want to help. They see a need or feel that they have a particular philosophy that can improve the lives of those around them. Unfortunately there are many times when a legislative bill needs to be voted on that doesn’t fit neatly into that philosophical box or isn’t viewed by the populous as being that helpful. Sort of like helping your friend on their horse and your hand slips up and your thumb gets firmly wedged in their rear. Your intentions were good but then somewhere along the line things went amiss.

During the last session a friend called my wife and asked, “Doesn’t your husband believe in the Constitution?” I was astounded, but sometimes actions get wrongly interpreted or the bill itself is so convolutedly worded as to be almost indecipherable.

By the way, I DO believe in the Constitution and try to follow it relentlessly.

I had an experience once that helped me understand how things can quickly get confused and go woefully awry. I was in my mid twenties and was asked to speak at a large church sponsored youth conference. They were not terribly clear about the subject matter, but considering myself to be rather funny, I thought they were expecting some humor, some life lessons, and maybe some instructive experiences.

The conference was being held in Sun Valley in a large auditorium. I was speaker number two. I began to be nervous when the first man delivered a sober, somber and serious message. I just might have misunderstood. Regardless, it was too late to change. I got up to the podium and nervously looked down at all those anxious faces. I began with a story about a newly arrived soldier in Vietnam. His assignment was to go out on patrol in the middle of the night. He was unbelievably afraid. The Lieutenant instructed them, “There are Viet Cong everywhere so it is vital that you don’t make a sound. Silence is the key to living through the night. I will take the lead but stay close, it’s pitch black and you can’t call out.” He assigned the new guy the safest place, in the rear.

Everything was going fine until this newby thinks he hears something over to his right. He stops for a moment to hear clearer. There appears to be nothing. He looks back up the trail and there is also nothing. He races forward but there is only blackness. He can’t yell out. His platoon is gone. He doesn’t know what to do. His hands are shaking, he is paralyzingly panicked, standing in the trail not knowing what to do.

Suddenly he hears a voice. “Mack!” His head jerks, but Mack is not his name. Maybe it’s another platoon seeing that he is American and trying to get his attention. More likely it’s the enemy waiting for his answer so they can shoot him. Oh, what should he do?

I looked at the faces in the audience, they were mesmerized by the story and on the edge of their seats. Hearing of that extreme predicament several women were quietly weeping. Is this frightened soldier going to pray for guidance? What Heavenly rescue is going to occur? It was me who was becoming panicked. I knew what was ahead and it wasn’t going to be pretty. How could I get myself out of this imposible situation? I wished that I had the talent to figure something different right there on the fly; I was the one praying for a rescue.

Whoever it was said, “Mack” again. Then a pause, “Mack!” Oh, he was so scared. “Mack.” The sound was coming from just on the other side of the thick fern he was standing by. He decided that if they said it one more time he would jump through the foliage. He made sure his safety was off, his finger was on the trigger.

“MACK!”

He tore through the brush and there was a duck with a lisp.

There was not a single laugh, chuckle or even a slight smile from the crowd. I glanced over at the leaders and they were not happy. Oddly enough, they never invited me back and I never got the chance to explain. I had completely misunderstood their meager instructions. My heart was pure but my presentation sadly misguided.

In the Legislature we vote on so many bills, representing so many varied issues. The result is that many times our intentions are pure but misunderstood and the actual vote possibly resulted in something completely different than what you may be upset about. Which is what occurred with my friend. I do believe in the Constitution. And for the record, regardless of what you may hear, you can rely on me to be consistently conservative and constantly conscientious concerning your cash.

This column was written by state Rep. Randy Armstrong, R-Inkom.

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