This legislative session has been characterized by some conflictual issues in the state legislature, especially in the Senate. We have witnessed filibustering over the issue of redistricting and gubernatorial appointees and one Senator stripped of committee assignments. A relevant point noted by many concerning these events is the reaction of the Senate leadership, especially Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz. His reaction to the filibustering by the Conservative Caucus and perceived outright retaliation against Senator Moon for leading the cause raises some concern regarding his leadership.
First, there is what I will call the playground bully mentality. In the leadership literature this is called the authoritarian leadership style. The attitude is that you must play my way, according to my rules, or you cannot play at all. Legislators are expected to go along to get along by adopting and abiding by the positions and desires of leadership. Any dissent to the contrary may result in negative consequences. Sound familiar of recent events? This you must play along to get along requirement runs contrary to the requirements for a positively functioning legislative process. However, if Senator Schatz demands a go along, play along Senate, then maybe he needs to model the behavior by reaching across the aisle and embracing conservative positions that are contrary to his own. By doing so, he may find himself on the right side of the issues.
A second concern are the implications of this leadership style for representative government. Representative government requires the freedom to question and debate the issues. It also requires the freedom to dissent and refuse to support positions when conscience and evidence dictate. This is exactly what I expect of my elected officials. Play along and go along expectations suppress representative government. When it is demanded that legislators submit to the positions of those in power, it is impossible for them to represent the concerns and voices of the people. The concerns of the people become subordinate to the interest of the leadership. What does Senator Schatz have against representative government? He does not seem concerned about using his leadership position to suppress the will of the people.
Lastly, a third concern is the Dave Schatz U.S. Senate campaign. Senator Schatz wants to be our U.S. Senator to Washington. Despite his apparent opposition to representative government, the people of Missouri must voice their concerns and question whether he is the person for the job. We do not need another play along, go along politician in Washington. Given his play along, go along demands in the State Senate, will he just go along in Washington if elected? His behavior would seem to suggest the affirmative. The Missouri people need and deserve better than this.
Dr. Wes Scroggins