A liberal learns the law of unintended consequences

Posted by: Barthélemy Barbancourt

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Talk to any legislative old-timer, and you'll hear the same refrain: The Legislature is just not the collegial place it used to be, where friendships and alliances were forged across the aisle during informal social settings.

It's almost hard to remember, but there was a time when receptions for legislators were held almost weekly, sponsored by this interest group or that, bringing legislators and staff together over a beer and culinary delights like mini-wieners on toothpicks.

Here we often got to know one another on a personal level, share frustrations and triumphs and even engage in playful ribbing of the other side.

It was 1994 when the rightful public outrage over reports of lavish gifts and feting of legislators (albeit primarily in Congress and other states) had reached a fever pitch, and we responded in Minnesota with a comprehensive campaign reform law prohibiting acceptance of so much as a cup of coffee from lobbyists or their clients. But, along with the gifts, out went the receptions.

Kevin Chandler is a small-business owner who served as a DFL state senator from White Bear Lake from 1993 to 1997.

It is easy to hate someone you don't know. It is also hard to compromise with strangers. Nationally we have the some problem, our representatives don't know each other well enough to compromise. They only know what their side of the aisle thinks.

Comments (4)add comment
written by TomC , July 13, 2011

I don't think that is the problem. It is easy to be collegial when there is a 60/40 split instead of a near 50/50 split in governing weight. The years referenced, usually by Democrats, as being more collegial were years where there was a clearly dominant controlling party.

Looking back from the 40s, the Dems had significant majorities in state and federal legislature during most of that time. As a result, when the Republicans finally eked 50/50+ protem in the Senate and a minimal majority in the House for a time in the 90s and 00s, they didn't know how to manage it, the Dems didn't know how to deal with not being the majority party, and the 24 hour media was there to sensationalize any hiccup that occurred.

Between the 7/24 media and the close ideological counts, tensions were inevitable.

Barthélemy Barbancourt
True, but
written by Barthélemy Barbancourt , July 13, 2011

I see so many liberals today that don't even understand conservative arguments. They spout things like "SS is solvent" and the $14 trillion debt isn't a big deal. Maybe if the lawmakers drank together, they could at least get the opposing sides to understand their arguments.

As it is some people in MN really don't understand that many of us want to actually shrink government, not grow it slower but actually shrink it.

written by Sequel , July 13, 2011

I don't think that both sides don't understand each other. I believe that the problem is one sided.
Conservatives are bombarded with leftist ideology from grammar school on. We read it in the paper every day, we get it when we watch TV or go to movies.
The average democrat has a limited knowledge of what conservatives believe, their view of my position is the typical misrepresentation that passes for evenhandednes from the press.

No I don't hate old people, and want then to starve because of my greed and wish for billionaires to skate on taxes.

Jim ross
written by Jim ross , July 14, 2011

This is spot on, Bart. No, going back to the old rules regarding gifts/parties would not solve all of our problems and magically help everyone get along, but it would help. Most old legislators, R or D, that you talk to will tell you the same thing.

Sequel: Do you think Toby Keith is good country music?

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