By Senator Lena C. Taylor
In my 20 years in the legislature, I have had many occasions to throw up my hands in frustration with my colleagues on the other side of the political aisle. In our most recent session, I think I went so far as to tell them, during a session floor speech, that they needed Jesus and Holy Oil. I’m paraphrasing but you get the point.
What took me to the brink of my bible? I’d have to think about it for a moment because it happens a lot. On issues of redistricting, healthcare, corrections, education, and just about everything else you can think of, I’ve shook my head in disbelief at the antics, policy, and fiscal decisions of state republicans. But that’s only half the story.
I also work, collaborate, introduce bills, and talk with my GOP contemporaries. I would go so far as to say, I have genuinely liked many legislators, with whom I differ politically. I respect what it takes to run for office, what you give up, and the sacrifices endured by the representatives and their families. I’ve always understood the person who was willing to speak up and put their own neck on the line for the community, state, or country they served.
It is with this belief that I find the behavior of so many new entrants to politics to be wholly unacceptable and detrimental to democracy. Don’t get me wrong, we had some doozies to be sure. However, there is a level of disdain, hate, and a scorched earth mentality that threatens to tear this nation apart.
After the hard fought campaign is over, legislators have a responsibility to work on behalf of both the constituents who elected us and the state of Wisconsin. Like U.S. President Joe Biden, I believe I have a duty to serve those who voted for me and those who didn’t. When you call my office for help, I don’t ask if you are a democrat or a republican. The money that pays my salary comes from every type of household: blue, red, independent, LGTBGIA, religious, etc.
As elected officials, we are tasked to govern in a way that benefits the masses or majority. When we lose sight of that, place a party over country, or elevate one individual above all others, we are creating something undesirable. We don’t pledge allegiance to a single man or woman, we make a pledge to a nation. We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The only way we live up to or achieve the ideals of the pledge is to work with each other and for each other.
Government is never supposed to “shutdown.” We can’t keep running to the edge of a fiscal cliff only to get a 45 day reprieve each budget cycle. Government is supposed to work. When elected officials demonstrate they are unwilling to do that we should allow them time to rest and reflect, at the house!