Trio seeks tea party tyranny

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Here’s the genesis of gridlock and dysfunctional government: A trio of Republican candidates for the state House has delivered a manifesto demanding no compromise or consensus building with Democrats in the next term.

Set aside for a moment the absolute arrogance of those who haven’t even been elected yet dictating terms to the Legislature. What these three tea party hard-heads are attempting to assure is one-party rule and one ideological approach to governing in Michigan, even if it comes at the expense of addressing the state’s pressing problems.

In other words, they want Michigan’s Legislature to operate like Harry Reid’s U.S. Senate.

The three — Todd Courser of Lapeer, Cindy Gamrat of Plainwell and Gary Glenn of Midland — say they speak for other tea party legislative hopefuls, and if they win, they’ll have the votes to influence who becomes the next speaker of the House.

They have put a list of demands before the two most likely choices for speaker, Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant and Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Lincoln Township.

What they want most is enforcement of the so-called Hastert Rule, named after former speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert, who refused to take anything to the floor of the House unless a majority of his Republican caucus signed on.

Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville had a similar policy, but noticeably broke from it to build a coalition with Democrats on key pieces of legislation, including the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid.

The tea party trio also wants assurances there will be no expansion of the Elliott-Larson act to include gays, no hike in the gasoline or other taxes and no attempt to create a state healthcare exchange to comply with Obamacare.

But it’s the demand for enforcement of the Hastert Rule that is most egregious. It will lead to the tyranny of the majority, or more accurately, of a minority within the majority.

The Legislature last term had to rely on Democrats joining Republicans to get key big things done. And if it’s going to pass a meaningful transportation bill next term, it will need votes from both parties.

Imposing the Hastert rule would mimic how Democrat Reid runs the U.S. Senate, which has managed to pass no meaningful legislation in two years. Pragmatic governing has disappeared from Washington.

Expect the same in Lansing if the likes of Courser, Glenn and Gamrat are allowed to inflict their narrow views on the Legislature.

I don’t know much about Gamrat, but Glenn and Courser have been trying to wedge their way into political office for years, and may have finally succeeded with their primary victories against establishment candidates in heavily Republican districts.

Both are extremely anti-gay and would turn the Republican Party into a fundamentalist denomination of the Christian Church if given the chance.

The GOP may see these three seats as key to holding control of the House, which may explain the state chamber’s decision to endorse two of them last week. But if it also means tea party absolutists will dictate the legislative agenda, it will be a hollow victory.


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