Under the Dome: Why doesn’t everyone think like me?
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as an engineer transitioning to management years ago was that other people don’t always see things or come to conclusions the same way I do. Imagine that.
Last week, I had a great experience working with engineering students from our wonderful Colorado universities who are participating in a month-long internship at the capitol. They each chose a problem related to state government and are analyzing the problem while learning how government functions. They will propose solutions through initiatives or legislation. I love the way they think: logic, reason and math applied to public policy.
I came across a book several years ago titled “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” The author, Jonathan Haidt, analyzes the value systems and processes that go into our decision making and how they differ from person to person. I think it should be a must-read for politicians who aspire to be good legislators. I’ve been known to give away copies.
I think I’ve been successful in my six years in the Colorado House of Representatives in passing bills I co-sponsored with other legislators of both parties. We often use the term bipartisan, but there can be major differences between legislators who live on the same side of the aisle. It took a lot of discussion and compromise during this last session to enact historic laws on pension reform (SB-200) and transportation (SB-01). And, it always takes heroic effort to balance the $29 billion dollar budget. I’ve been extremely fortunate to serve on the Joint Budget Committee, where cooperative teamwork is not just a good thing, but an absolute necessity.
That said, good will and compromise don’t always work. The conflict between human services and entitlement budgets and spending on basic infrastructure will be with us again this year and into the future, as will issues related to the “urban/rural” divide and adequate education funding.
And, we will still debate the role of TABOR in controlling overall state spending.
To get things done, our state representatives and senators need to understand that their “friends” may not think like them. We all need to understand that our bill partners and the other voting members will be representing their constituents, but they will also be using different value systems and processes to reach their conclusions.
I suppose that’s why it looks so messy to observers. So, enjoy watching the circus, and help me make the right choices. It’s an honor to serve you, regardless of whether you think exactly the way I do or not.
State Rep. Bob Rankin represents Colorado’s House District 57. He writes the monthly column “Under the Dome” hoping to inform and engage the constituents in his district. He serves on the Joint Budget Committee and represents Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
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