We are having a moment here at the Capitol, in our State, in our Country where politics seems to have superseded everything else. It has superseded the basic policy-making process. It has superseded the intense need to address the fiscal cliff. It has superseded the basic responsibility that Legislators have to the people of Louisiana to construct a moral and honest budget. It has superseded the most fundamental structure of our society-our families, leaving children as pawns in policy negotiations, and in some cases torn away from their parents.
Politics has superseded our shared humanity and it is time we put an end to it. I believe there is no one reading this who doesn’t believe that sick people deserve to have viable options for health care and that supporting our healthcare system benefits all Louisianans. Or that our working parents deserve high quality and affordable childcare options so they can continue to contribute to our economy and provide for their families. Or that our students deserve to know if TOPS will be available for the next year or even the next semester as they plan for their future. Or that children deserve to be with their parents when they are frightened and alone in a strange place.
Although it may be our wish that our Statesmen and women have the foresight and ability to place the public good above politics, James Madison warned us in Federalist Paper No. 10 that “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”
You don’t have to be stuck with unenlightened leaders. You have the capacity and the responsibility to enlighten them and now is the time. Now is the time to tell them what you value. Now is the time to demand more and demand better.
The House Ways and Means and Appropriations Committees are meeting as you read this to vote on a path forward. What they decide this week will affect higher education, graduate medical education, TOPS, the Department of Children and Family Services, Public Safety and the overall trajectory of our State. It will affect you. It is not the time to allow frustration and inaction to set in-that would be the easy way out. Now is the time to Press On.
Politics is not a worthy opponent and it is an even less worthy victor. Politics serves no one but itself, and the danger of surrendering to politics is that the job is never done. The end is never achieved, the cycle of inaction and neglect never broken. It is a road to nowhere.
Find comfort in the fact that we have been here before and we will be here again. As always, this, too, shall pass. But also find comfort in your power and in your voice. Now is the time to use it.