Last week as members of the North Carolina House of Representatives and State Senate met to discuss the two legislative body’s budget proposals, the senators in that meeting became so outraged they stood and left the meeting.
Members of the House dared have professional educators come in to discuss their concerns regarding the state budget.
Imagine that — House members had the gall to turn to professional educators. You know, the people working with kids every day in a classroom environment, the ones responsible for attempting to run school systems on the budget being discussed.
And the Senate’s response? They stood and walked out in a huff.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, during a public budget negotiation between members of the two legislative bodies. The senators appointed to the negotiations were angry over some perceived rules infraction by the House, so they stormed out. Not to mention the fact that this was simply rude to the school officials brought in to speak, it was also indicative of one of the chief problems in politics today.
No one gives a rip about what anyone else is saying.
Three decades ago many media outlets had some fund reporting on the strange relationship, possibly even friendship, that developed between then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative Tip O’Neil and President Ronald Reagan.
O’Neil, a Democrat, was as left-wing as they come, and ruled the House with an iron fist. His word was law in that legislative body, and love him or hate him, he was effective at his job. Some argued O’Neil may have, for a time, been the most powerful man in Washington.
Reagan, of course, is the man everyone in the GOP seems to claim to want to be. Moderates, Tea Partiers, and everyone in between claim to be the new Reagan, staking out their territory in the party by invoking Reagan’s name. He was the great Republican hope, the conservatives’ answer to years of liberal control of Washington.
Whether you like his politics or not, he was an effective leader who knew how to get what he wanted, who could, and did, bring about significant change.
One would think, with such powerful forces on opposite ends of the political spectrum, nothing would have ever gotten done in Washington, that the term gridlock would have been the best descriptor of such an era.
That’s not the case. O’Neil and Reagan never really changed much in their political views, but they did realize that sometimes compromise is how effective governing is achieved. They understood that no one gets everything they want, that those on the other side can be honorable, earnest individuals whose positions should be respected.
Fast forward to today. The Tea Party movement seems largely filled with individuals who seem to want their belief system — religious, business, politics, everything — imposed on everyone. They are right and the rest of the world is wrong, and using anything, even inaccuracies or “facts” that aren’t really facts to support their world view is just fine.
Those on the left? They often resort to their own half-truths or inaccurate “facts” to support their claims. Liberals too often seem to believe they are the only individuals gifted with higher reasoning ability, that anyone who disagrees with them is simply ignorant or stupid.
Neither side seems to be willing to find any common ground — it’s their way or the highway.
Last week we saw that taken to an extreme with the state budget deliberations. Both the state senate and the house is controlled by Republicans — individuals with the same basic belief system, yet even then we have elected officials treating constituents rudely to make some penny ante political point that no one outside their little world understands or even cares about.
Everyone wants their way, with no compromise, no give-and-take, and as a result our national and federal governments sit, gridlocked, as ineffective and non-representative as any time in recent history.