by Ken Gorrell, Weirs Times Contributing Writer
While serving as a Navy officer in Hawaii, a friend told me that I’d be happier and healthier if I lived the “aloha spirit” for which the islands are famous. He could see that I was letting my natural Irish pessimism and temper influence my leadership style (my officers had nicknamed me “Red Haired Devil”).
The aloha spirit of acceptance and tolerance just isn’t in me. I woke up each morning on that ship convinced that if I wasn’t outraged by 0700, I hadn’t been paying attention. Not a healthy attitude, but that touch of paranoia saved me on quite a few occasions.
Twenty years later, New Hampshire conservatives would do well to apply that sense of distrust to the leadership of our House Republican majority: If you aren’t outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.
What part of “mandate” eludes Speaker of the House Jasper (D’RINO) and his “leadership” team? Voters handed the NH GOP a huge victory last year, but were rewarded by watching the minority Democrats effectively choose the Speaker, along with a handful of disgruntled Republicans. The Speaker owes his job to the opposition party and the least conservative members of the caucus.
House leaders seem determined to buoy the spirits of the opposition party and position them to re-gain the majority in 2016. They certainly aren’t giving conservative voters reasons to want this bunch back in power. Here are a few numbers to back up my opinion:
With a nearly 3-2 advantage (238-161), the Republicans have lost half – half – of the roll call votes to date. Thanks to poor committee chairman assignments and a rule requiring his leadership team to vote in accordance with committee recommendations, Speaker Jasper seems intent on mocking GOP voters.
Incredibly, five of Jasper’s hand-picked team have voted with the Democrats more than the Republicans, with one committee chairman voting nearly three times as often with the minority party. Pinning names to the wall of shame: Representatives Andrew Christie, Carolyn Gargasz, David Hess, David Kidder, and Karen Umberger have sided with the opposition party more often than the majority Republicans.
Luckily, this idiocy doesn’t extend to the rank-and-file. Although the Majority Leader (Should I use “scare quotes” when I write that title?) has voted as often with the minority as with the majority party, House Republicans as a whole have a much better track record: They support the majority GOP opinion almost 90 percent of the time.
The Democrats are more unified in their minority position, voting with their party more than 90 percent of the time. Thanks in part to better leadership, better discipline, and better alignment with party principles, the Democrats are advancing their agenda, or at least blunting anything that could be called a conservative agenda, giving their base reason to come out in force for the next election.
How do the numbers translate legislatively? Our GOP-dominated House passed a bill prohibiting tanning salons from providing services to persons under 18 years of age, while killing bills that would have prohibited the use of public funds for abortion services, permitted defendants to inform juries of their right to apply the facts of law in relation to the facts in controversy (jury nullification), and would have allowed landlords to better protect themselves by collecting first and last month’s rent in addition to a security deposit.
Perhaps the most egregious example of a departure from principles is embodied in HB 263, which passed committee 17-0. This bill would have preemptively prohibited municipalities from imposing residency restrictions on sex offenders. Though the House eventually tabled the bill, the fact it unanimously passed a Republican-chaired committee shows just how out of sync this leadership team is.
Why Republicans in Concord think it is right to prevent voters in, say, Northfield, from limiting housing options for child sex offenders to areas away from our Union-Sanborn Elementary School beggars belief. It certainly isn’t a conservative position. Conservatives believe that governmental decisions should be made at the lowest level of government possible – the level closest to the people – provided the laws pass constitutional muster.
While sex offender residency restrictions are controversial and have been challenged in courts across the country, a state-wide ban is something supported by liberal groups like the Civil Liberties Union. The bill’s lead sponsor was a Keene Democrat. This bill never should have made it out of committee with the “Ought to Pass” stamp.
If Jasper and his House leaders don’t understand that, they don’t deserve to lead a Republican majority.