GAIL MOONEY: 'Greatest session' left much to be desired
CUMMINGS, N.D. -- Possibly the "greatest session in our state history." Wow. That is quite a statement! And to have it come from the governor within hours of the longest legislative session in North Dakota history? Stunning statement, indeed. But...
CUMMINGS, N.D. -- Possibly the "greatest session in our state history." Wow. That is quite a statement!
And to have it come from the governor within hours of the longest legislative session in North Dakota history? Stunning statement, indeed.
But as one of the 94 House members who had the honor and privilege of wading through the 80 days of bills in the 2013 legislative session, I question the sincerity of this assessment. Were we able to accomplish some good things for the people of North Dakota? Yes. I believe this is the case in a variety of areas.
Did we do all we could? Did we do enough to address the needs of today while protecting the legacy and future generations of our state? No.
I would suggest that we could -- and should -- have done much more, and that the time for high fives is premature, at best.
Coming into this session as a newly elected representative, I knew there would be much to do, much to learn, and a vast hierarchy to come to understand. Naively, I thought the election was over, and that it was time to roll up our collective sleeves to get to work -- hammering through the myriad needs of the people of North Dakota.
And, by in large, I'd say the greatest number of people in the two chambers felt the same, regardless of political affiliations or views. Left unfettered, this is the beauty of the process: You put a group of dedicated people together with varying backgrounds, experiences and ideals, and marvelous things happen: consensus, understanding -- and often, compromise.
In the end, solution-based thinking for the interests of the many tends to produce meaningful results.
So, what was lacking? In my observation: leadership.
True leadership has vision, is inclusive and goal-oriented and ultimately pulls everything together for the benefit of the greater good.
What we experienced was a shotgun approach to everything. Inconsistent and sporadic ideologies fostered partisan politics. Exclusive and overbearing hidden agendas were ferociously and deliberately predetermined.
Ostensibly, this was all to insure the Republican supermajority would have the ability to achieve preconceived objectives without disruption.
But common sense does prevail; and by default, most of North Dakota has pretty similar needs and expectations -- regardless of political affiliations. So, the problem isn't the minority party.
No, the problem is that even the members of a supermajority must go home to their constituents and be able to defend their positions. And therein lies the fundamental problem with unilateral and autocratic leadership: failure to take in to account the needs and wishes of the people first and foremost.
In my opinion, a lack of clear leadership allowed national and partisan politics to take precedence over the good of the people. In doing so, we missed many opportunities to step up and provide meaningful and lasting support to the families, workers, students and businesses of North Dakota.
A far cry from the "greatest session in our state history."
Mooney, a Democrat, represents District 20 in the North Dakota House.