A House Divided
Large legislative bodies, by virtue of their close proximity to the grassroots, have the potential to very accurately reflect the diverse interests of the citizens they represent. This can often make reaching an actual consensus on specific policy recommendations a bit of a challenge. As a result, they sometimes inject uncertainty and volatility into the process in ways that surprise even the most seasoned observers. Such was the case yesterday, as Democratic leaders in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives found themselves on the losing end of a very close vote on the Gov. Lynch-amended gay marriage bill.
These leaders have put a largely positive spin on this outcome, depicting the setback as all in a day’s work, as part of the ongoing process of negotiation and compromise that defines the legislative process. There is some truth to this, and, as I told reporters yesterday, I still think the bill has a chance to pass. But in the wake of yesterday’s defeat, political elites seem to be having difficulty articulating the precise nature of the sticking point in the House. Does the Lynch language go too far? Not far enough? Is it redundant with preexisting protections in the state constitution?
I certainly don’t have an answer to these crucial questions yet, nor do I think the bill’s supporters have one. That will be their challenge going forward – to articulate the collective will of the chamber from within the diverse passions and interests that animate a large representative body. It is a challenge as old as representative democracy.


Posted On: 05-26-2009 19:54:26 by Jim Splaine
I like a challenge.

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