When I was asked last week to start blogging for the Idaho Statesman, I have to admit that I was surprised.
Typically, the media does not care much what a freshman member of the Idaho State House of Representatives has to say. (As my friends and family are sure to remind me, they still don’t!!!)
At first, I was honored that they would ask (even if I was not necessarily first on their list). But after thinking about it, I felt the same feelings expressed by Sen. David Langhorst in his initial blog from last week: fear that I would not have enough time to do a good job and concern about the uncivil nature of some of the discourse in the comment threads.
Time for me is a precious thing. For starters, I am the father of five young children (ages 5-15). My free time (when I have any) is filled with family activities and responsibilities. Further, I own my own business. I am an attorney and own a law firm. I have seven employees and spend a lot of time each day dealing with personnel and case management issues.
In addition, as one of the youngest and newest members of the Legislature, I spend a lot of time just learning how the legislative process works. One of the most interesting parts of the job has been to learn how to work in a large organization.
In my private life, I have always worked for small firms or owned a small business, and am used to making quick decisions. After consultation with my staff at work or my wife at home, decisions are implemented without much delay.
The legislative process is much different, though. I come up with what I consider to be a good idea. Then, I have to shop it around so I can convince at least 36 people in the House (who, like me, think their ideas are always the best) that my idea is even worth considering.
Then, if I am successful, I have to convince 18 strong-willed senators that my idea is worth their time.
If I am lucky enough to make it through this whole labyrinth, then I have to make sure the governor likes it or it will be vetoed, which just starts the whole process all over again.
Now, just a short thought on the nature of the discourse in the comment threads: One of the things that I have been worried about the most is the personal nature of some of the comments made by people who disagree with politicians, in general, and Republicans, in particular.
There is a trend in the United States, which is exacerbated by the blogosphere, to vilify and personalize all political discourse and disagreement. One of the things that I enjoy the most about my experience working in the legislature is working with people of good will and honor every day, even those with whom I disagree completely on the major issues of our day.
I have never been offended by or upset with a colleague over policy or philosophical differences. I have only been upset when people have been duplicitous or tried to attack me personally.
While I will vigorously and forcefully defend my positions in this blog, and will at times attack the policy and philosophical underpinnings of the other side’s arguments, I hope to do so with dignity and respect.
Well, I hope this experience is worthwhile for you, the reader, and me, the writer, as we work together to understand each other a little bit better.
Rep. Raúl R. Labrador