Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ken Gordon's Rules of Legislative Conduct

Cleaning up email, I see I got something from Senator Ken Gordon. Today is his last day in the Colorado Legislature. Gordon sent out something he calls his "Rules of Legislative Conduct."

Gordon served Colorado well. And his rules are worth remembering.

Gordon's Rules of Legislative Conduct
(Suggestions for future legislators)

1. Think for yourself. If you don't have any internal values that inform your conduct here, find another occupation.

2. Leadership: You can't always be liked and always do the right thing. If you don't have the courage to sometimes do the right thing even though it will anger some person or support group, you should find another occupation. If you don't have courage, you may be an elected official, but you are not a leader.

3. If you are in the majority and you can't pass a bill that you want to pass without abusing the process, then you shouldn't pass the bill. If you can’t kill a bill that you want to kill without abusing the process, then you shouldn’t kill the bill.

4. If you abuse the process in order to prevent minority party members from accomplishing anything that reflects the values of their constituents, then you create a deep and bitter resentment. This resentment will come back to haunt you in myriad ways. Abuse of the process does not show strength. It shows weakness.

5. Respect the minority party members. There are a large number of people who voted for them. When you disrespect the minority party members you disrespect many of the people of Colorado. And their ideas are not always wrong.

6. Think of the other members of the Senate as team members--even members of the other party. The goal is not to be in the majority. If that were the goal, then the other party would be the enemy. The goal is to make Colorado the best state in the country, or in any country for that matter. To do this we need everyone's help. If we don't do this we will be at a competitive disadvantage with states or countries that learn how to work better together.

7. Some people think there is a distinction between how you act in a campaign and how you act at the legislature. If you lie during a political campaign, that makes you a liar, and you will be treated that way in the legislature as well.

8. Respect the people who put you in office. You might think that you do that, but every time you commit your vote to a lobbyist or even another member before you have heard committee testimony or debate, you have disrespected the people who wish to voice their opinion.

9. Don't let conflict escalate. Be the one who deescalates. Be the bigger person. Be the person who acknowledges error. If you have to, go outside and take a walk.

10. Have pride in what you are doing. You stand on the shoulders of many thousands who have worked or shed blood for our rights and our democracy. Fewer than 2% of the people who have ever lived have lived in a democracy. Don't take it for granted. By your conduct here, honor those people who fought for this democracy.

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