One party rule

How one responds to the Republican state senators hightailing it out of the capital to deny a quorum during the debate and vote for the cap and trade bill likely depends on one’s ideological bent.

The right cheered on the maneuver; the left disparaged the move.

To deny ruling Democrats the opportunity to steam roll their cap and trade legislation into reality, the Republicans took a page from other states and Oregon Democratic legislators themselves by skipping town. Without the minimum number of legislators in attendance, the cap and trade bill could not move forward. Earlier this week Senate President Peter Courtney admitted that even his own caucus did not have the necessary votes to pass the bill. 

Some say that the Republicans should have returned to Salem and do the job they were elected to do—even if it means being on the losing side of a vote. Others say that the Republicans were only doing what they had to do to stave off what some call a disaster for the state.

The political stand-off resulted in the no-show Republicans being fined $500 a day for staying away. Those fines can be paid for out of the legislator’s campaign coffers. Most of the Republican senators were in Idaho, out of reach of the Oregon State Police, who have been tasked with rounding up the errant legislators.

There are about 100 pending bills in the state legislature that will die for lack of action due to the walkout. That is one repercussion. This is not the last time this will happen, by either party. We are seeing in real time the dangers of the legislature held by supermajorities.

There are lessons here that need to be heeded. If the Republicans want to have a big say in governing they need to chip away at the Democratic majorities by running candidates more palatable to independent voters in the state’s more progressive areas.

The Democrats must learn that just because you can pass some legislation doesn’t mean you should. 

It has been shown that real work for the people gets done when one or both houses of a state legislature is evenly divided between the two parties. True compromise is required to pass any bills.

It is understandable why the Republican senators did what they did—they didn’t have much of a choice. There is no guarantee that a passed cap and trade bill could be revoked via the ballot in 2020. 

The GOP has shown they have as much determination as the Democrats. Politics is the art of compromise. Let’s see more compromise and a lot less drama.