Monday, March 16, 2009

republican form of government

One of the legislators I deal with more often than others is a long-time veteran of the statehouse. He is a great guy and we disagree on quite a few policy philosophies. However, I am an entranced observer to watch him in action. He is the Chairman of a committee I often attend, and I've gotten to know him pretty well over the last few years.

He approaches things in what I view the most appropriate manner: He asks how will a proposal impact his constituents first, then, what is the larger philosophical perspective and/or how does the proposal impact other groups. He isn't blinded by that perspective, but it's just the foundation for any consideration he makes. Obviously there are times where he votes for things that a majority of his district may not like, but that is the whole point of the republican (small "R") form of government. His job is to make decisions for his district.

Legislators have to make tough's their job. They aren't supposed to vote for the majority of their districts, they are supposed to vote based on how it impacts the whole. This legislator does that. I disagree with many of his votes, but at least he votes his conscience.

I've touched on this previously, but, in Indiana at least, many of the bigger votes are based on a caucus or leadership decision. On less controversial issues, legislators generally vote their conscience, but on the big issues, they generally have to go along with the group decision. There are positive and negative aspects to that approach, but generally I think that's a bad thing.

So when I come across a legislator who, even though I disagree with their votes sometimes, is willing to stand his/her ground, I have a great appreciation for them.

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