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Common sense politics

Despite all odds, and despite being geographically located in the most liberal locale in the known world, one small-town mayor may have conquered homelessness.

How can this be? I thought homelessness was an unending continuum fully blamed on the failed social construct of capitalism!

Did this mayor throw money at the problem? Apparently not. Did he conduct social justice marches? No, he didn’t. Did he provide free drugs, demand soft-on-crime and no-bail laws, offer a guaranteed government income, or better yet, just blame Trump?! No to all the above.

What this mayor in Coronado, California, did was employ … wait for it … common sense.

Adjacent to San Diego, Coronado is one of the most beautiful beach cities in the nation. Home to the U.S. military and the place where Navy Seals earn their trident, Coronado is roughly the size of Trussville, Alabama, with a population of around 20,000. Politics there are mixed, having long had a Republican base, but in the last election Joe Biden won just over 50% of the vote, and their current state representative is a Democrat.

Coronado’s mayor is a Republican named Richard Bailey, and he was recently interviewed on how he hit upon a solution to a previously unsolvable crisis in a state that has over 30% of the nation’s homeless.

“The policies that are in place at the regional and statewide level that are tolerating this type of behavior that is personally destructive and also destructive to the surrounding communities are really enabling this situation to increase throughout our entire state, and throughout our entire region,” Bailey said. "[T]hose that are refusing to get help… shouldn't be granted additional ability to break laws such as tent encampments on the sidewalk or urinating or defecating in public."

Bailey went on to explain that the city combines the efforts of its police department and a non-profit homeless service provider to give the homeless one option: take the help that is offered or leave. Despite being in the same state as San Francisco and Los Angeles, there are no homeless encampments in Coronado. They offer folks a hand-up with mental health counseling, job searches, and drug rehab, but if they won’t take the help they are told to leave.

This is an elected official making his community better through the simple application of good ol’ common sense!

Apparently, it works. Coronado only listed one homeless person within its city limits, the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness reported, and the Mayor says that person, fortunately, got help and is no longer on the streets.

Just. Wow.

This indicates that it is still possible to have common sense in politics at every level. What if all of our elected officials moved toward solutions with this same level of common sense?

Think about it at the national level. Doesn’t it stand to reason that attacking the oil and gas industry, shutting off their capacity to invest in what they do best (namely drill for oil and gas), will make the price at the pump go up? Common sense.

Or what if you tell the world that you know vaccine mandates might not be constitutional, but you’re going to do them anyway? You then begin blanket denials of the legal rights of those in the military to have case-by-case reviews of their requests for religious accommodation. Maybe that will have a negative impact on recruiting and retention. Common sense.

But let’s bring it home. If you’re the Republican governor of a state like Alabama, with a Republican supermajority in the legislature and a budget surplus in a declining economic environment, and every other state around you has enacted some meaningful tax reform without suffering any crushing economic side effects, maybe, just maybe, you should consider giving some tax relief to your citizens. Common sense.

While we’re talking about Alabama’s leadership, consider also that if the state you govern is consistently in the bottom rung of education rankings, despite having 10 years of increased budgets and pay raises, maybe, just maybe, there is a better choice in education policy. Common sense.

Let’s talk local: If the mayor of what was the largest city in Alabama when he took office decides to make the legalization of marijuana one of his stated objectives, even going so far as to issue blanket pardons for criminal drug offenses dating back three decades (over 15,000 pardons!), maybe the biggest city in the state will drop in population and economic development will decline. This despite the fact that the opposite is happening one hour to the north in what is now the biggest city in the state! Common sense.

I understand there are differing political agendas and ideological persuasions. There will always be differences of opinion on how to handle certain circumstances, but in the end, it is the results that matter. Coronado’s mayor may not be right on everything, but on the thing, everyone else in his state is getting wrong, he is getting it right.

Governance is not rocket science and need not take an Ivy League doctorate in public administration. Governance can be good ol’ common sense, which unfortunately is all too uncommon.

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