Doing what is popular or what is right?

I was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in the election of 2002. That was the year that Republicans took control of the House after taking the Senate in the election of 2000. In the House we had a whopping majority of 85. To be the majority in the House takes 82 members so our advantage was razor thin.

Even though we had the House and the Senate we still had a Democrat governor in the person of Bob Holden. I remember the fights that we had with him over the budget that year. He wanted the legislature to ask the people of Missouri for a tax increase of just around $1 billion to increase funding. We took the opposite approach of holding firm and cutting expenses.

There was a huge fight and the governor vetoed our budget twice and called us into special session trying to force us to ask for more money. For those of you who might have forgotten, because of the Hancock Amendment the ability of the Missouri General Assembly to raise taxes is very limited so the only option is to ask for a tax increase.

We didn’t budge and on July 1 (the start of the fiscal year) the governor withheld money from public education hoping that the pressure we would get would change our minds. We didn’t and the next spring he released the funds.

One way we cut expenses to live within our means as a state was to cut funding to Medicaid. Of course there were some members of the caucus that said we couldn’t do that because they would lose the next election. It wasn’t necessarily that they didn’t think it was the right course of action, they were just worried about the political ramifications.

Again, we stood firm and the next election we actually increased our majority. And the lesson from both of these scenarios is that “what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular”. We can argue and debate whether what we did was right or not but the point is that we (as a Republican caucus) thought it was the right thing to do so we did not let populism sway our decision making.

Now fast forward 18 years and every decision in Washington seems to be driven by a poll saying what the “people” are thinking about the situation. Yes, our representatives in Congress are supposed to be “representing” our views but that doesn’t mean that they should be swayed by a poll that may or may not be accurate and that may not truly account for what is actually happening in any given situation.

The greatest compliment I received while I was in Jefferson City came from a school superintendent during the withholding situation I outlined above. He said, “Kevin, we elected you because we trusted you and you know more about what is going on so do what you need to do.”

As I write this column I don’t know the outcome of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight playing out in Washington. But, this I do know – I am extremely ashamed of the way the left has approached this whole situation. I am ashamed because I’m pretty sure that none of them are ashamed of themselves. They are sinking to new lows to do everything within their power to prevent a conservative from being appointed to the Supreme Court.

Nothing has been good enough in their minds and they keep changing what they want from the committee and the Senate leadership in order to delay taking action. I especially “liked” the comments from Senator Cory “I am Spartacus” Booker who said that basically he didn’t care whether Kavanaugh was innocent or guilty but that they needed to move on to another candidate.

Let that one sink in and you will see that the end game was all about obstruction and doing whatever it takes to win. Is it ironic that he has been rumored to be a Presidential candidate in 2020? So is he doing the right thing or the popular thing for his base of supporters?

Every single one of us has put a “slant” on things in our lives to make us look better. That is human nature to want to look good to others. And probably almost everyone has embellished things along the way.

We had this discussion in our Sunday School class last week (not about politics but about embellishing) and I quoted Jack Nicholson from the movie “A Few Good Men” when he said “you can’t handle the truth”.

In life many people can’t handle the truth because they don’t want to or because they want to look better. But, in our elected officials we should expect them to do the “right” thing, not just the “popular” thing.

- Kevin Wilson is a retired Missouri State Representative and writes a column, Standing In The Gap, for The Neosho Daily News.

Doing what is popular or what is right?

I was first elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in the election of 2002. That was the year that Republicans took control of the House after taking the Senate in the election of 2000. In the House we had a whopping majority of 85. To be the majority in the House takes 82 members so our advantage was razor thin.

Even though we had the House and the Senate we still had a Democrat governor in the person of Bob Holden. I remember the fights that we had with him over the budget that year. He wanted the legislature to ask the people of Missouri for a tax increase of just around $1 billion to increase funding. We took the opposite approach of holding firm and cutting expenses.

There was a huge fight and the governor vetoed our budget twice and called us into special session trying to force us to ask for more money. For those of you who might have forgotten, because of the Hancock Amendment the ability of the Missouri General Assembly to raise taxes is very limited so the only option is to ask for a tax increase.

We didn’t budge and on July 1 (the start of the fiscal year) the governor withheld money from public education hoping that the pressure we would get would change our minds. We didn’t and the next spring he released the funds.

One way we cut expenses to live within our means as a state was to cut funding to Medicaid. Of course there were some members of the caucus that said we couldn’t do that because they would lose the next election. It wasn’t necessarily that they didn’t think it was the right course of action, they were just worried about the political ramifications.

Again, we stood firm and the next election we actually increased our majority. And the lesson from both of these scenarios is that “what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular”. We can argue and debate whether what we did was right or not but the point is that we (as a Republican caucus) thought it was the right thing to do so we did not let populism sway our decision making.

Now fast forward 18 years and every decision in Washington seems to be driven by a poll saying what the “people” are thinking about the situation. Yes, our representatives in Congress are supposed to be “representing” our views but that doesn’t mean that they should be swayed by a poll that may or may not be accurate and that may not truly account for what is actually happening in any given situation.

The greatest compliment I received while I was in Jefferson City came from a school superintendent during the withholding situation I outlined above. He said, “Kevin, we elected you because we trusted you and you know more about what is going on so do what you need to do.”

As I write this column I don’t know the outcome of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight playing out in Washington. But, this I do know – I am extremely ashamed of the way the left has approached this whole situation. I am ashamed because I’m pretty sure that none of them are ashamed of themselves. They are sinking to new lows to do everything within their power to prevent a conservative from being appointed to the Supreme Court.

Nothing has been good enough in their minds and they keep changing what they want from the committee and the Senate leadership in order to delay taking action. I especially “liked” the comments from Senator Cory “I am Spartacus” Booker who said that basically he didn’t care whether Kavanaugh was innocent or guilty but that they needed to move on to another candidate.

Let that one sink in and you will see that the end game was all about obstruction and doing whatever it takes to win. Is it ironic that he has been rumored to be a Presidential candidate in 2020? So is he doing the right thing or the popular thing for his base of supporters?

Every single one of us has put a “slant” on things in our lives to make us look better. That is human nature to want to look good to others. And probably almost everyone has embellished things along the way.

We had this discussion in our Sunday School class last week (not about politics but about embellishing) and I quoted Jack Nicholson from the movie “A Few Good Men” when he said “you can’t handle the truth”.

In life many people can’t handle the truth because they don’t want to or because they want to look better. But, in our elected officials we should expect them to do the “right” thing, not just the “popular” thing.

- Kevin Wilson is a retired Missouri State Representative and writes a column, Standing In The Gap, for The Neosho Daily News.