Delaware’s Politics of Building (and Burning) Bridges
The building of bridges does not necessarily bring two sides together. Case in point: the state’s 2013 legislative session.
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From the statewide level, this new era in the politics of polarization has spilled into the Delaware General Assembly in Dover. The center cannot hold, and the consensus has been strained as the Democrats have pulled left and the Republicans have pulled right.
For a state in which the politicians like to talk about how much better off the country would be if Delaware ways were taken to Washington, it looks more and more like D.C. ways are coming to Dover.
Exhibit A is the 2013 legislative session, which began in the frost of January and ended as the night of June 30 seeped into July 1.
With the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the Senate and the House of Representatives all within the Democratic sphere of influence, the legislature took up its most liberal agenda since the days of love beads, peace patches and mood rings.
There were votes on a death penalty repeal, gay marriage, transgender rights, guns and taxes. Almost all the Democrats voted yes. Almost all the Republicans voted no.
Patti Blevins, the Senate’s Democratic president pro tem, and Gary Simpson, the Senate’s Republican minority leader, penned dueling op-ed columns afterward.
Blevins declared, “This General Assembly has taken meaningful steps to make Delaware an economically stronger, safer and more welcoming place ... and we have done so in a way that respected varying viewpoints and opinions.”
Simpson vented, “The just-completed 2013 legislative session was one of the most contentious and frustrating I’ve ever experienced in my 15 years as a state lawmaker. I’ve never seen so much divisive and emotional debate. ... And what do we have to show for it?”
The most telling moment was the customary gathering in the governor’s office to hail the end of the session in sleep-deprived relief. There, in Jack Markell’s executive chambers, not one Republican showed up.
As recently as last year, Simpson stopped by, and so did Greg Lavelle, the current Senate minority whip who was the House minority leader at the time.
The borders are gone, and Delaware is melting into the greater noise. The state looks the same as everywhere else.