Your observer of the passing scene has had a year to ponder the things he witnessed in all those hours observing the Missouri Legislature from his perch in the House Press Gallery or from his seat at the press table on the Senate floor. And he has come to the conclusion after the year away from the tumult and the shouting that one of the most regrettable trends he watched was the decline—and seeming death—of a quality we call “class.”
The thought hit home several days ago when legislative leaders decided to hold hearings to examine Missouri programs that help refugees, a decision reached after the histrionics accompanying their demands that the Governor keep Syrians from coming to our state. Governor Nixon threw a bucket of ice water on those demands, leading to the examination of what the state does with immigrants.
A legislature that still operated with at least a certain amount of “class’ would have decided to hold the hearings BEFORE trying to whip up public emotions on the subject, of course. From what we have heard and read, the hearings would not have justified the earlier reactions. But in an era where dignity takes a back seat to demonization, we seem to be left with those whose philosophy is heavily laced with the adage, “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” Herman Wouk used the adage in The Caine Mutiny and said it was an ancient saying. It’s all too current today.
In announcing the hearings, Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard put out a statement saying, “Because of our governor’s lack of leadership and this administration’s failed federal foreign policies, we will try to find ways to protect the safety and well-being of the citizens of the Show-Me State.”
Sheesh! Everything seems to be couched in language these days that tries to throw a kidney punch at somebody, doesn’t it? Parents recognize the trend.
“It’s all his fault1”
Normally about this time, the adult in the room says “Stop it!” and threatens to send people to their rooms until they can behave in a civil manner.
Unfortunately, there appears to be a noticeable lack of adults when it comes to modern politics. “Class” is one of the casualties of the presence of term limits and absence of high ethical standards.
We dislike wallowing in nostalgia because nostalgia often recalls an unrealistic picture. But there WERE days when people in government could do things without being so dang-nabbed disagreeable. Of course, that was back in the days before term limits when legislators had time to grow up. And when there were adults in the room who could help them do it.
Maybe it will dawn on some people someday that Lord of the Flies is not a political textbook.