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home : columns : columns July 22, 2014


2/13/2013 9:30:00 AM
Listen to your lawmakers

Rahn Larson
Editor


Usually, I will be among the first columnists to sing the familiar spring song, "Contact your lawmakers."
But this time I'm suggesting a slightly different approach. My suggestion for the spring of 2013 is: "Listen to your lawmakers."
This may be a little hard to follow, but bear with me here.
As you listen to lawmakers, please try to give equal concentration on the message and the politics of the message- or, hopefully, the lack of politics.
What are they really saying to reporters? How are they reacting to key proposals? Do they react differently if those proposals come from Democrats or Republicans?
After you have spent some time listening, take stock of what you've heard. Strip away their political leanings for a moment and focus on how they tackle the issue.
Once you've done this through a few weeks of newspaper articles, and newscasts, you should be able to answer one important question: "Is this person serving me, or a political party?"
Not long ago, during a TV news show, I heard a retired politician discuss this issue. The guy spoke about the "old days," when lawmakers from both sides of the aisle frequently shared dinner, cab rides and friendly conversation. He spoke of an era when Democrats and Republicans routinely crossed party lines to support issues that were important to their constituents.
The man went on to say that he sees almost none of that in today's world. There is more disdain than ever between the two parties.
He made the point that many politicians these days are more concerned about representing their party than they are about representing their constituents.
We all know that this has caused major gridlock and helped create countless examples of poor public policy.
I am no history expert, but I studied history and I have no doubt that this is not the style of government our founding fathers envisioned.
Recently, Gov. Chris Christie appeared on the David Letterman Show and blamed politics for getting in the way of federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Like the retired politician I mentioned, Christie said that the politics of fear and hatred is becoming a major problem in this country.
It's a safe bet that the political tide will continue to turn back and forth for Democrats and Republicans over the next few years. But as long as we allow politics to rule over constituents, we will continue to get what we deserve - a mediocre government.










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