Time and time again people in this state and Outside do not hear about the substantive things this state is doing. Rather they usually hear about our lawmakers acting like children and the last few weeks are perfect examples.
First there was everyone’s favorite Don Young who let fly with a racial slur about migrant workers while on the radio. The comment ruffled the feathers of everyone in Congress — Democrats looking for ammunition, Republicans seeking more Hispanic voters — and made great fuel for national journalists who could grab the quote and run with it, so to speak.
Second was Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, who stuck his tongue out at the camera during session late Monday night while the rest of the House looked half-asleep. Queue the press conference and scold from other lawmakers, primarily the Republicans from the Interior.
These sorts of shenanigans capture attention, make headlines and are easy stories for the state’s media to latch onto. But what good are they? What has been accomplished by this reaction to bad behavior?
As a state we’re great at getting lost in the fray and horrible at buckling down and investigating the details.
We’re willing to bet that a survey of Alaska residents would show that more people know the word Young used on the radio than any of the bills he has sponsored in, say, the last five years. Also, we’re willing to bet that more people know the name of that Fairbanks legislator with the wild tongue than the specifics of the bill the House was voting on.
Great job everybody.
It is time this state focus and quit wasting time on such matters. It certainly starts with our lawmakers, both state and federal, but Alaskan voters need to be better parents.
Good parents ignore when their children engage in attention-seeking shenanigans and praise the good work they do. For so long Alaska hasn’t had much to applaud and has been conditioned to only pay attention to the badly-behaved lawmakers we elect.
It’s time for our lawmakers to focus and engage in the discussions that will move this state from surviving to thriving. It is the job of voters to condition their lawmakers to understand that bad behavior doesn’t earn re-election.