A solution to the unbelievable

There’s one answer to the truly bizarre goings-on in D.C.

It is October, the “best of times and the worst of times” in New Hampshire, as the most beautiful and brief season of the year precedes the dark and then cold seasons.

We also are facing a new political and public policy season. In Washington, the bizarre has become the unbelievable, with Trump having gone from just terrible to possibly impeachable, and rhetoric going from what we are surprised by to what we are horrified by, with terms like “civil war” and “traitor” being exchanged as if they are not surprising. I don’t know about you, but they are surprising and horrifying to me.

Meanwhile, back in our state, we keep being visited by those who would be president. They are bright, they are impressive, they are full of ideas, and they are apparently ready to bankrupt the country with all manner of proposals we cannot afford, if our children and grandchildren are to be able to afford the country they are going to inherit.

Warren, Sanders and all the rest seem unable to understand that we should be able to afford what they propose. On the GOP side, the Trump people seem to be in control, and equally ready to put the country down the chute, confusing loyalty to this flawed leader with patriotism for the country.

What a mess!

However, all is not lost. From time to time, representatives of organizations that take the long view and are arguing for a return to the system that has produced American greatness appear on the scene here and nationally.

A couple of weeks ago, the leaders of “Issue One” came here, at the invitation of former Congressman Richard Swett and his wife Katrina, a force in her own right. Issue One focuses on the operation of the Congress, and the idea that it should operate collegially and according to what the late Sen. John McCain called “regular order.” That means having bills introduced, heard, debated, passed, sent to the other body, and having the process repeated, and then being sent to the White House to be signed or vetoed.

What a concept!

Issue One is an effort of over 200 former members of Congress, including a number from New Hampshire (Bass, Zeliff, Swett, etc.) who desire a return to the traditional and established legislative process by which our government operates.

In their appearance at the Rudman Center at the UNH School of Law, they made a convincing argument that we can survive the current troubles if the citizens support a return to regular order. However, they recognized the cancer inflicted on the process by the lack of control on money in politics, the proliferation of media sources which do not respect “facts” as opposed to opinion, and other negative forces.

So we have opposing forces. Those in office and seeking to be re-elected, and those formerly in office and cognizant of what needs to be done. Isn’t it sad that the former group with the votes cannot embrace the principles of the latter group, who have learned what needs to be done and are advocating it? Cannot we explain it to the former in order to help the latter? If we cannot, we and they fear it may be too late for our system, and no one wants to contemplate that.

Meanwhile, the stalemate between the governor and the Legislature ended with a budget compromise that both sides celebrated as meeting the needs of the state, providing increases for social service rates and more one-time aid to education, among other things. Those knowing about the details of the budget and timing of payments might disagree, but having a resolution to the stalemate is a good thing. How it really will work out has yet to be seen.

How the many vetoes of bills by Governor Sununu and the passage of a number of other bills will play out, and the many predictions of disaster will dissipate.

Some observers wonder why anyone would veto a neutral commission to redistrict political districts, which could help both political parties, or a number of other measures vetoed by the governor as well, but he has the power to do so and obligation to explain his actions. He also has the risk of being judged on those actions.

So life goes on in the politics of New Hampshire, which is minor in comparison with the major issues playing out on the national and international stage.

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He can be reached at bcook@sheehan.com.

Categories: Cook on Concord

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