Pubdate: Tue, 19 Apr 2016
Source: Daily Times (Primos, PA)
Copyright: 2016 The Daily Times


"This is what government is supposed to look like."

Just let that notion sink in for awhile.

We've gotten accustomed to the opposite when it comes to politics.

It doesn't matter if it's Washington, D.C., or Harrisburg. Somewhere 
along the line, we lost sight of the purpose of government  serving 
the public. Instead what we all too often have amounts to little more 
than political bloodsport. It's as if Vince Lombardi had hijacked the 
nation's political agenda. "Winning is not everything, it's the only thing."

Compromise? That magic elixir in which the public's business is 
conducted and things actually are accomplished? A quaint notion we 
used when talking about Republican President Ronald Reagan and 
Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill.

In today's political world, as unfortunately witnessed the past seven 
years and change, the goal has been not to get things done, but too 
often to keep anything from getting done. Republicans made clear from 
the early days of the Obama administration that their main goal was 
to prevent a second Obama term. They looked to thwart him at every turn.

Democrats are not without fault here, this kind of obfuscation is an 
equal opportunity employer in today's politics. Stall, block, oppose.

The result: Gridlock. Welcome to the way things get done  or more 
accurately don't get done  in today's brutally partisan world of 
government inaction.

Then you have what happened Sunday in Harrisburg.

The words above were uttered by state Sen. Daylin Leach, one of the 
early and most vocal backers of a bill to allow use of medical 
marijuana in Pennsylvania.

On Sunday Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law. It will go into 
effect in 30 days.

In doing so the Democrat - who has learned first-hand what partisan 
gridlock looks like in his first year at the helm of the state - 
actually did something much more than demonstrate that things 
actually can - even if they rarely do - get done in Harrisburg and 
other halls of government.

That thought was not lost on Leach.

The Democrat, who represents parts of both Delaware and Montgomery 
County, reached out early across the aisle to Republican Sen. Mike 
Folmer of Lebanon County.

They were not interested in winning a political fight. They were 
interested in helping their constituents, children and others 
desperate for some kind of relief from debilitating pain from serious 
maladies such as multiple sclerosis and seizures.

Leach could not have made that more clear in his remarks Sunday. He 
stressed "we," not "I." He did not describe the effort as being 
Democrat or Republican, but instead one of concern for all Pennsylvanians.

He thanked his Republican partner Folmer, as well as House Majority 
Leader Dave Reed, R-62, of Indiana County.

Clearly, Leach was ebullient in bringing this common-sense piece of 
legislation to fruition. The bill will set up a system of 
dispensaries to dole out medical marijuana in pill, ointment or 
lotion form. It will be regulated by the state and doctors who wish 
to prescribe it will have to register with the state. This does not 
pertain to pot that is smoked.

But beyond that, Leach noted what else had been accomplished in this 
push. There were serious questions and opposition to his legislation, 
in both the House and Senate. But instead of being bottled up and 
dying on the vine, agreements were hammered out.

It's called compromise. It's not a dirty word. Is just appears that 
way all too often.

Leach made a point to stress that notion, after taking a playful jab 
at Folmer as his "favorite right-wing lunatic in the world."

"Let us pause to actually reflect on what actually happened here, in 
this place, because it doesn't happen often enough," Leach said.

The senator then offered a path to the way things can be - but too 
often are not.

"We stopped being Democrats and started being caregivers," Leach 
said. "We stopped being Republicans and started being patients. We 
stopped being liberals and started being problem solvers. We stopped 
being conservatives and started being compromisers. We stopped being 
politicians and started being human beings."

Leach returned to the end result of this legislation, what it means 
to so many suffering Pennsylvania families who have waited so long for relief.

"Today, we are all healers," Leach said. In more ways than one. Let's 
hope that lesson is not forgotten as the state looks to tackle the 
serious problems it still faces - a looming pension crisis, a yawning 
fiscal deficit, the hopes of so many of getting the state out of the 
business of selling booze.

We hope those open sores are as easily healed.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom