Auchter's Art: The only quiet time to make decisions | Michigan Radio
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Auchter's Art: The only quiet time to make decisions

Sep 6, 2019

One of my favorite bits from the musical Hamilton has Alexander Hamilton entering George Washington's office:

Hamilton: Mr. President, you asked to see me?

Washington: I know you're busy.

Hamilton: What do you need, sir? Sir?

Washington: I wanna give you a word of warning.

Hamilton: Sir, I don't know what you heard. But whatever it is, Jefferson started it.

Perfect. His first instinct is to be petty and partisan. Just like us modern day Americans! But while we tend to over-idealize the Founding Fathers, I do think there are instances where they would be rightfully disappointed in us.

The sorry state of our legislative branches, for example. Both at the state and federal levels, the legislative branch was designed to be the deliberative body where elected representatives hashed out the tough issues of the day — the place where decision were made. Now legislative branches have become the place where ideas go to die and discussions are avoided. So they are increasingly bypassed.

This week, Governor Whitmer made a sideways maneuver to ban certain e-cigarette flavors in an effort to prevent children from becoming hooked on nicotine through vaping. It's an honorable goal, but ideally it would have been handled through the standard legislative process. The excuse: That would be too difficult. That is not a good excuse. But it is, unfortunately, plausible.

It gets worse because the dysfunction of the modern day legislative process leads not only to what gets done by these end-arounds, but to what does not get done — such as laws, programs, and public health initiatives to deal with our gun violence epidemic.

The quiet, contemplative time provided by active shooter drills should not be where decisions are made.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.