My latest at the RGJ is up, about the ridiculous and somewhat insulting emptiness of the Nevada Democratic Caucus’ recently published campaign flier/legislative agenda. The thing about emptiness is that there’s only so much you can say, which makes this a shorter post.
(You have to click through, though, and check out the comments. There’s one there that should win whatever awards internet trolls give out instead of Grammys.)
I’m certain there are some Dems out there who will counter my piece by noting that there are bills in the works – at least one of them has been introduced – which give substance to the “blueprint” bullet points. That’s great and all, but there’s no reason an outline/proposal can’t have enough specifics to explain in advance what you intend to do. The Governor’s State of the State address did that long before his actual tax plan bill came out, after all.
I don’t think there’s anything nefarious about the emptiness of that plan, for the record. I almost wish there was – nefarious plots that rely on secrecy suggest foresight and competence. Besides, I know a lot of the folks in the Dem caucuses, and for the most part, they’re good-hearted people who really want to help the people of Nevada. Nevadans should be insulted by their lack of seriousness, but at least the insult isn’t deliberate.
I think a major part of the problem is the pervasive nature of our new political culture. Everything is political, and campaigns never end. At some point, you actually have to buckle down and do the mundane detail work of fleshing out the practical applications of your policy theories, but there’s no time for that any more because of all the politicking that has to go on 24/7. Politicking is a lot easier, and less boring. But it’s a terrible thing for actual governance.
One of the reasons I admire Governor Sandoval and the current GOP Senate leadership so much – even when I disagree with them – is that they understand the need for and the importance of the grunt work and the details. And it’s why – if they aren’t sabotaged too badly by their own party members here and there – they will enjoy real, long term success, both politically and in terms of policy.
I’m sure, too, that we’ll hear whining about how the Governor is the only one with access to the information and experts needed to craft a budget in the first place. While he certainly has an advantage there, it’s not like there aren’t previous budgets out there to dissect or apply.
Besides – Democrats have been in the majority in the state legislature for years and years prior to this. At least in the Assembly, they fully expected to be in the majority this year, and indeed were already planning for it before the election. It’s not as if they didn’t have time to put something more serious together.
I’ll take competence over philosophy any day, and most voters, I think, agree. That’s especially true of the less politically obsessed.
I know I beat this drum over and over again, but it can’t be said enough. Do the work first. Govern well. No one will listen to you if you don’t have a record of success.
Republicans enjoy control of Nevada’s entire state government, not because people suddenly thought Republican ideas were better, but because Democrats spent the last few years not being competent. Some Republicans understand this, and others do not. Future political success depends on just how correctly lopsided the ratio of those two groups turns out to be.