Friday, April 19, 2024
    HomePoliticsEDITORIAL: Failed politics: Struggling leaders talk lots but accomplish little | Opinion

    EDITORIAL: Failed politics: Struggling leaders talk lots but accomplish little | Opinion

    Government observers sometimes use the phrase “politics is the art of the possible” when explaining the need to negotiate and even compromise on the path to achieving a public policy goal.

    That phrase seemed appropriate last week when, at both the state and federal levels, politicians tried the impossible, refused to work with others and boldly failed.

    The first was when the Oklahoma Legislature was called into special session by Gov. Kevin Stitt, who seized upon the possibility of an unfavorable court ruling — a potential ruling that would be widely viewed as unfair — to pitch his longstanding desire to eliminate the state income tax. The ploy didn’t work, at least in part, because Stitt did not work with Oklahoma Senate Republicans on how such a spending change could work. House members, at least, found value in a phased-in reduction in the state income tax, but Stitt did not meet in any public ways with senators, who abruptly ended the not-so-special legislative session. No conversation, no action, the end.

    Without discussion, negotiation, and a plan for reducing ongoing expenses to match an ongoing reduction in state revenue, the special session was wasted time. Nothing was accomplished.

    The week prior, in Washington, D.C., the U.S. House, Senate and president practiced “the art of the possible,” clamping down on some spending and compromising on some key issues to vote to keep the nation’s government functioning. It was a step in a positive direction.

    But, the following week, that spirit of accomplishment blew apart when far-right Republicans joined with Democrats to oust the speaker of the House of Representatives. There was no agreement to replace the body’s leader, merely a desire to oust him. Accomplishments of the prior week were replaced by an inability to do anything. The leaderless Congress shut down.

    Members of Congress were talking about each other, not talking with one another. Nothing was accomplished.

    Perhaps our elected officials need to be reminded about “the art of the possible.” To accomplish financing our nation’s armed forces, or a farm bill, or federal disaster aid — let alone more ambitious goals such as a sane immigration policy and enforcement — will require working with other elected officials who likely share some similar and some different perspectives on what’s good government. “My way or the highway” attitudes lead nowhere. That’s not governing, that’s grandstanding.

    State and federal elected officials need to be judged on what they accomplish, not how loud or shrill their remarks. It’s time they go back to working WITH one another. It’s time they go back to work.



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