Session on reforms needed

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2004

By Staff
What it must be like to have reached the level of vacuity and cynicism required to contentedly sit back and observe the lawmaking process as if were a spectator sport.
Because it isn't, you know. It's a framework of procedures put in place for making important decisions that impact real people. It should observed, and analyzed, more seriously than the pitch-by-pitch breakdown of a no-hitter, or a beautifully executed squeeze play.
But that's rarely the case. Most of the political analysis we get is from jaded insiders, people so impressed with the intricacies of what they're watching they miss -- or worse, ignore -- the bigger picture altogether.
To put it in fitting terms, they're so enamored of the screwball coming their way that they strike out looking -- then lope out to the mound and ask the pitcher for an autograph.
And what do they think of their teammate, the one who goes down swinging, then glares at the pitcher while walking back to the dugout? What a rube that guy must be.
Actually, and unfortunately, we need both types. The insiders offer us a window onto what's wrong with our system, and we need to know that.
The more aggressive competitors -- who in the world of politics may be labeled reformers, even idealists -- strike out a lot.
But sometimes they actually get the ball rolling.
The perfect inhabitant of the political jungle -- at least from a reasoning voter's perspective -- falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. They know enough about the "game" they're involved in to keep from getting lost, but still care enough that they play to win -- with the definition of winning being an effort to do the right thing.
Governor Bob Riley deserves credit for having stuck to his guns this Legislative session, fighting for a set of reforms most of his constituents would agree are badly needed. But Riley's met with little success, as lawmakers have ignored his calls to address the topics on his agenda.
Now, the Governor will have to call the Legislature into special session to have his proposals heard.
He should definitely do so. While some of his ideas are more sound than others, reform-themed measures in general deserve a full, uninterupted listen before lawmakers go home for good this year. Alabamians, many of whom have lost faith in the Legislature as a whole, have a right to expect a full airing of ideas designed to win back their lost confidence.
Still, for any significant progress to be made, lawmakers and the governor are going to have to meet somewhere on that middle ground, where the voting body plays it straight and the guy pushing for change realizes that can't come all at once.
If that happens, the special session could actually turn out to be a ballgame worth watching. If it doesn't, then we all go home losers -- once again.

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