GOP HYPOCRISY STINKS
Apparently, the Republican Party’s commitment to representative government is geographically specific.
In Albany, it’s good.
In Rochester, it’s bad.
I’m talking about the irony of a committee vote the other day in the Monroe County Legislature. On a party-line 3-2 vote, the Republicans opposed a proposal which their party colleagues are passionately pushing in the state legislature.
To whit: Every member of the legislature, of either party, should be allowed to bring at least one bill to the floor for debate and a vote every four years.
Four years. One piece of legislation. A simple up or down vote.
And the Republicans said no.
To what is essentially a Republican initiative.
The sad background is that, in the state and county legislatures, partisan antagonism is so high that the majority party will not even let the minority party bring its legislation to the floor. They can propose legislation, and it can be assigned to a committee.
But it will die there.
And it will never come before the whole legislature.
No debate, no amending, no voting.
Just a partisan thumbs down from the majority party.
That’s what the Democrats do in the Assembly in Albany. And that’s what the Republicans do in the Legislature in Rochester.
In Albany, the Republicans decry that as a fundamental bastardization of democracy. In Rochester, they embrace it as their prerogative. In Albany they push legislation to change it. In Rochester they sabotage legislation to change it.
The suggestion from Republicans in the Assembly is that once each term – two years – each member of the Assembly be guaranteed the right to bring at least one bill all the way to a floor vote.
One bill per assemblyman every two years doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s better than zero, and that’s what minority Republicans are getting now. And that’s what they are complaining against.
And they are right.
It is immoral, illogical and un-American for Assembly Democrats to completely freeze Assembly Republicans out of the legislative process.
It defeats representative government, it undercuts the principle of one-man one-vote, and it leaves those from Republican districts without a voice or a vote in the Assembly.
And, of course, the policy of the Monroe County Legislature does exactly the same thing to Democrats.
It is immoral, illogical and un-American for Legislature Republicans to completely freeze Legislature Democrats out of the legislative process.
And given the fact that Republicans in the Assembly are fighting against this tyranny, it is unconscionably hypocritical for them to be imposing it in the Legislature.
You cannot demand justice on the one hand, while dispensing injustice on the other.
Yet Monday, in a committee of the Monroe County Legislature, that is exactly what happened. A Democrat had proposed a new rule for the Legislature, one patterned almost exactly after the Republicans’ Assembly bill.
He asked that every member of the Legislature be given the opportunity at least once each term – four years – to bring a proposal all the way to a floor vote.
One four-year term, one piece of legislation.
And the Republicans said no.
And under the rules of the Legislature, unless the proposal is specifically resurrected by the Legislature president, it can’t be considered again until the next term – which is four years from now.
That’s what passes for freedom these days.
Ironically, in a chamber where the majority is quick to honor our brave military, Republicans also seem quick to desecrate the liberties our military fights to defend. America is not just a flag, it is a system of representative government.
And Democrats are just as much Americans as anybody else. And policies which effectively strip the power of legislating from districts that elect Democrats are a sin against our system. They are an assault on government by the people.
Republicans should not live down to the political corruption of the Assembly Democrats, they should live up to the principles of our nation and set an appropriate example.
And Legislature Democrats should stand with Assembly Republicans in decrying the tyranny of the majority -- in Albany as well as Rochester.
There is no guarantee that minority bills would pass – in fact, it’s fairly unlikely – but they should at least be heard. They should be considered. They should be debated.
And they should be voted on.
Republicans are right in Albany, but they are wrong in Rochester.
And that isn’t irony, that’s hypocrisy.
Do what is right. Here and there.
And stop playing stupid partisan games.
Yes, there are deep and significant philosophical differences. But fair play and the democratic process are not among them. In a legislative body, all ideas should be worthy of a debate and a vote.
Even minority ideas.
And shame on any majority that doesn’t respect that fact.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012