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What do doctors and law makers have in common? When one is inept in either field, it’s a very bad thing.

A friend of mine went in for a simple outpatient procedure. He was having a cyst removed from his arm. It’s no big deal, really, unless it’s your arm. He didn’t have a regular doctor, so he was going to a nearby clinic. The doctor seemed warm and professional. He asked a lot of questions and agreed that the cyst needed to come out.

He sent a nurse in and she explained some things again, then ushered us over to a smaller room containing the equipment necessary. The doctor walked past the door and joked, “I’ll be right in. I just want to watch the video for this procedure one more time.”

My friend stiffened, eyes wide. The doctor winked, smiled broadly, and we all collapsed into gales of laughter. The procedure went perfectly. The arm is fully healed and the scar is minimal.

And we still joke about “needing to watch the video one more time.”

Sadly, I thought of this story recently as I was reviewing the political news. Most of my regular readers know that I’m a moderate. I don’t get too bent out of shape by politics. But when legislation or administration is simply shoddy, we should be fired up.

Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that there aren’t very many politicians who can write a bill anymore. We’re all hoping that there are enough experienced leaders who can manage a large organization like a state government. I have the strong impression that some of these folks are stepping back into their offices to “watch the video one more time” before they introduce a bill or sign one into law.

Mistakes & Blunders

In 2008, congress sent a bill to President George W. Bush that was missing over thirty pages. In 2009, President Obama received a bill that required weapons to be transported via Amtrak to be locked in a box. When the language was considered more carefully, the bill actually called for the weapon’s owner to be stashed in the box as well.

The 2005 bill that would have helped fund the infamous “bridge to nowhere” was finally enacted in 2008. It required a corrections bill to redact portions of the bill that referred to projects that no longer existed.

English: President George W. Bush and Presiden...

President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House Monday, November 10, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It isn’t just the federal government. One of the worst in our state was Representative Stacey Campfield’s recent gem that would require good grade from kids whose parents receive government assistance for food or shelter. You can read my take on that poorly crafted bit of legislation at the link.

Common Core is another example. For a hundred reasons, Common Core fails to recognize the individuality of learning and ties teachers to administrative tasks which actually take them away from quality contact hours that could be spent teaching. Sadly, the fixes are worse than the problem, depending on who you are asking.

And the recent ban on Gateway Sexual Behaviors is yet another example of legislators providing oversight without accountability or responsibility. “The very ambiguous language in this bill certainly puts teachers in a very difficult situation” when it comes to knowing what to teach, said Jerry Winters, spokesman for the Tennessee Education Association. (via Reuters)

A Little Grace

Now, I know that none of us is perfect. But it is time to fire some politicians when bills are written that no longer reflect a clear understanding of how the world works, or “cause and effect” as physicists like to call it.

2010-10-30_11-11-28

I wonder if School House Rock might help some of these representatives.(Photo credit: joannapoe)

After reading up on the legislation and the poorly educated or poorly gifted legislators behind it, I’m becoming convinced that the problem lies in the electorate. We are are more interested in putting people who agree with us into office than qualified leaders and legislators. I’m not sure that we are even bothering to take the time to test our candidates skills in the area of writing bills, negotiating the finer points of the law, or even communicating effectively with constituents or colleagues.

It’s time for some grace, but maybe not in the way that you are thinking. I’m not talking about giving these folks a pass. Instead, shouldn’t we choose the more qualified candidate if it means that our government will be handled by someone who is qualified?

I’m willing to vote for candidates who are qualified even if we disagree on a few things. I’d much rather have an effective leader with whom I occasionally disagree than an ineffective, bumbling oaf speaking on my behalf.

Who are your Bottom Ten legislators? I don’t want the folks you disagree with. I want the ones who don’t show up for votes, don’t write bills, or can’t put together a coherent sentence. It is time we spoke up about our inept state representatives and the inability of some to even craft cohesive legislation. See you in the comments section.

 

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Author: Joey Reed

Joey is married to his best friend. Together, they have two children and live in Jackson, Tennessee. Joey serves Grace United Methodist Church, the Jackson District, the Memphis Annual Conference, and the world is his parish.