Editorial: A return to political decorum
Thank you, Rep. Jay Lucas. Lucas, a Republican from Hartsville who began his fourth term as Speaker of the House, offered some strong words to his legislative colleagues last week on the theatrics and grandstanding he has seen of late. Without naming names, Lucas spoke out against “petty, vindictive, showmanship” in the chamber. Lucas’ speech to the body came a day after Republican Rep. Jonathon Hill interrupted debate on a bill that would ban almost all abortions by throwing dozens of sheets of paper to the ground and in the air as he stormed out of the chamber. The Anderson County Republican was upset his amendments that would make a fetus a citizen at the time of conception were not being accepted after House leaders put a limit on debate. After Hill stormed out, Lucas paused debate to address Hill’s actions, stating that if lawmakers want to “engage in such childish behavior. We are a legislative body. We are not children. We do not throw tantrums when we lose.” In his address on Thursday, Lucas did not name Hill or any other lawmaker and suggested it wasn’t just Hill who didn’t respect decorum in the House chamber, although his actions may have served as a tipping point “While a few individuals decide to elevate their own wishes above the will of the body, that behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Lucas said. “The House floor is not a stage for your theatrics, and the body should not be held hostage to anyone’s vindictiveness.” The House could choose to punish Hill or any other member, but there has been no effort to do that yet. Following Lucas’ remarks, House members stood and applauded the speaker, including Hill. We applaud Lucas as well for speaking out on a problem that has become all too common at the local, state and federal levels of government. There are too many politicians out there who choose to grandstand and act childishly – a strong word, but in this case quite appropriate – when things don’t go their way. The antics simply have to stop, and it must stop on both sides of the aisle. Neither party has a monopoly on the poor behavior we have seen from late by politicians. We witnessed name-calling and finger pointing in great quantity during the last few weeks as the nation’s Capital has been focused on impeachment hearings rather than far more important matters. This lack of both respect and common sense seems to have trickled down to state legislatures and our city and town halls. We appreciate Lucas’ forthrightness to say what needed to be said – enough is enough.