The first day of the 96th General Assembly began at high noon yesterday. Historical Republican majorities took the oath of office in both the House and Senate. The first day of a new General Assembly is generally a lot of pomp and circumstance. Newly elected leaders give speeches outlining their priorities and hopes for the upcoming session. And for at least one day, there is peace and tranquility throughout the Capitol. Well, tranquility anyway.
Approximately 300 citizen activists from all across the state gathered in the rotunda of the Capitol to participate in the Consent of the Governed rally at 10 a.m. As demonstrated on November 2, 2010, these people represent hundreds of thousands of Missourians who want their government at all levels to be responsible and accountable to them.
It’s apparent from watching national news coverage that there are still those in Washington who didn’t get that message. They still seem to have the Sen. Claire McCaskill “message received” syndrome. Their view is voters did not reject their big government policies, but it was simply their failure to adequately explain to us how good big government spending and programs are for us. Even Sen. McCaskill is starting to back away from that approach!
It would appear that here in Missouri, the environment is somewhat different. Republican and Democrat elected officials in the General Assembly appear to have gotten the message. No one should take that appearance as a certainty and no one should rest assured that they can now return to their peaceful slumber.
Even the best-intentioned of people, including our elected representatives, can get off track. That’s why it is not enough, as important as it is, to simply study candidates’ positions and go vote. We must keep a watchful eye on those we have chosen to represent us and be ready to contact them on issues. We need to not only let them know when they are going astray but also when they have done the right thing as well.
Those gathered at the Consent of the Governed Rally, and many more across the state, are committed to making sure government at all levels — local, state and federal — are being watched and held accountable for their actions on our behalf. After all, we are the Show Me State!