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So Much for Bipartisanship

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Colorado State Capitol (credit: Jason Hussong)

Colorado State Capitol (credit: Jason Hussong)

Bipartisanship is a funny thing. It’s like eating Broccoli. Everybody says we should have more of it, and most people think it’s really good for us, but in the end, left to our own devices, we avoid it.

Case in point, the new Colorado House Republican leadership.

When they won there newly minted majority by literally hundreds of votes last week, the first announcement made by Rep. Frank McNulty, the next likely Speaker, was that he called Governor-Elect Hickenlooper, and agreed that they needed to work together for the benefit of all Coloradans.

Fast forward one week, an eternity in politics, and McNulty made a much different announcement. This week, McNulty announced that House Republican Leadership will change the names of three significant committees.

The House Health and Human Services Committee will now be known as the House Health Committee, the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee is now the House Business Affairs Committee and the House Transportation and Energy Committee will be known as the House Transportation Committee.

The issues these committees will handle will not change.

The only thing that has changed is the tenor that House Republicans are bringing with them to the 2011 session.

On the political side, I understand what eliminating the words, Human Services, Energy and Labor means. But the problem is, to non-politicians and non-political wonks, essentially 99% of the population, the move seems petty and unnecessary.

I’m not one to advocate that everyone needs to get along to be productive, but I do advocate treating your majority status like Joe Paterno advises treating touchdown celebrations. Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno advises that when you score a touchdown, act like you’ve been there before and act like you’ll be there again.

Essentially, don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. It can only incite your opponent and make you look silly.

Renaming committees while some counties are still technically counting ballots to make sure you have won the majority is drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. And, it can only incite your political opponent and make you look silly to the electorate.

This one move won’t define the House Republicans, but it’s not a strong first step on their precarious journey of owning a one vote majority. Leaders should make significant change, not petty political change, to kick off the ownership of a new majority.

This isn’t a move that should doom House Republicans and frankly, most of us will forget about these petty changes before too long, on one condition. The condition is that House Republicans don’t follow this boneheaded maneuver with another one just like it. If they get down to business, then this will be forgotten by nearly everyone.

But this move will define House Republicans if they forget how to act in the end zone.

Joe Paterno is a legend for a reason.

If House Republicans don’t start acting like they’ve been there before, they won’t be there again for a long time.

- by Dominic Dezzutti

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