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How about a beginner’s guide for politicians? | LIHerald

A very wise person once told me that the two greatest professions for which there is no formal training are politics and motherhood. Thanks to programs like Lamaze classes and nonprofits like Planned Parenthood, there is no lack of useful training for expectant mothers to guide them through the early stages of mothering.

In the case of politics, however, regrettably, there are no formal or informal seminars to guide fledgling politicians through the process and to keep them out of harm’s way. I know that all of the political parties conduct candidate schools, but that isn’t what I’m talking about.

There has to be a way to teach new — and veteran — legislators about the purpose of public office, how the laws work and what motivated the founders of our country to create this thing we call democracy. Whether it’s Washington or Albany, there’s a desperate need to talk to elected officials about how government should function and what makes the people respect and sometimes even admire their leaders.

Congress is by far the body that is most in need of a refresher course on what makes government effective. I feel terribly sorry for my friends from the downstate region who serve in the House of Representatives. People of the quality of Peter King, Steve IsraelTim BishopCarolyn McCarthy and Carolyn Maloney must feel awfully frustrated each week they travel to Washington and nothing gets done.

There is unquestionably a need for the House to be a mix of left, center and right-wing factions so that every part of America has a voice in the nation’s capital. But somehow these voices collectively produce nothing but anger, frustration and petty partisanship. How many times must the House vote to repeal an existing law before members figure out that it’s an exercise in futility?

While the country begs for a new revival and a real economic recovery, all we get is a series of investigative hearings to help give some members of Congress a chance to be on CNN or C-Span so the folks back home know that they showed up for work. How about a serious immigration law, a post office system that can continue delivering the mail or a simple background check to stem the illegal sale of guns? The Senate isn’t any better. I always thought that if you get 51 percent of a vote, you win. But in the Senate there’s a requirement that in most cases you need 60 percent support to get a bill before the body. So the Democrats who have 54 percent of the members need to get six Republicans to join them or a bill goes nowhere. The Democratic majority could pass a rule that 51 percent is a majority, but they’re afraid that someday when they’re back in the minority, they’ll get hurt by such a change. So gridlock prevails.

My former colleagues in Albany are wrestling with their share of headaches. When 20 or more members go to jail for one reason or another, things aren’t going very well. There has to be enormous frustration for the many honest members of the Assembly and Senate that people are caught almost every week breaking the law.

What is badly needed, especially for the newer members, are courses that explain existing laws and how to avoid the abuse of power. There is no doubt that some of the elected members come to Albany with their own agendas, and they are incapable of learning from a lecture on how to serve with dignity and within the law. But right now there are no such briefings, and they are desperately needed.

It seems too simplistic to suggest that the newly elected be required to undergo more formal training before they begin serving at one of these two levels of government, but often the obvious is the last thing people think of.

How about a beginner’s guide for politicians? – LIHerald.com – Nassau County’s source for local news, breaking news, sports, entertainment & shopping.