Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Democrats Forgot What They Learned in Kindergarten

In 1986, author Robert Fulghum wrote a book called  All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten." Granted, it is a simplistic look at life, but it does teach some basic life lessons. The second rule in his list is, "Play Fair."
On the left margin, you see a list of the "Core Principles" from our friends at the Mackinac Center. The first principle listed is "The Rule of Law." So, what does this have to do with the Democrats behavior lately?

If You Can't Win Within the Rules, Cheat

In our system of government, the majority party has a lot of advantages in the legislative process. They have the gavel, the leadership, the committee chairs. They decide which bills are heard and which are not.
But even under this system, the minority party has a right to be heard. The Michigan House operates under "Mason's Rules." They allow the minority to offer amendments. It can be an effective way to improve bills on the floor or get other bills out for debate.
But this is all predicated on the assumption that everyone plays fair; that both parties observe the "rule of law" regarding procedure. There are still plenty of ways that the majority can maintain control, or the minority can get things done, all within the rules.
The Republican minority, in an attempt to make improvements to bills on the floor, or to force the Democrats to take up important legislation have offered amendments to bills as they were being considered on the House floor. This is how it is supposed to work. Anyone who has an amendment simply has to raise his hand to be recognized, offer his amendment and then, if he desires, ask for a "recorded roll call vote" on his amendment. If at least 22 members, one-fifth of the House, raise their hands, there must be a recorded roll call vote. This puts legislators in the position of making their vote public.
Lately, the Democrats in control have decided to ignore the rules altogether. In fact, over the last couple of months, the Speaker Pro-Tem has refused to recognize members who wish to speak on amendments, or to allow roll-call votes. In fact, Republicans have been shut off, in blatant violation of the rules over 350 times. What is most unfortunate about this is that over 4.5 million voters, the constituents in Republican districts, have been effectively silenced.
As a result, such bills as the Transparency Act, improvements to spending bills, education bills, denial of state funding for illegals, and repeal of the Michigan Business Tax surcharge won't even have an opportunity for debate on the House floor.
The media, who watches this circus unfold daily, apparently does not consider it newsworthy information and has largely neglected to tell you about it.
I know what you are thinking; the Republicans did the same thing when they were in control. I will readily acknowledge there were times when Democrats were shut out of the process. But does that suddenly make it OK? Is turnabout really fair play? Are we not adults here?
If there is one message coming from voters it is that they don't like the legislature and think we incompetent. But the situation in the House is not because we are incompetent, it's because we forgot what we learned in Kindergarten.

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