Editorial: Next time, fix these mistakes

Sep. 14, 2013 @ 01:01 AM

The Republicans who lead the N.C. General Assembly passed a “bad budget” that was not balanced and made the “wrong” decision to eliminate pay raises for teachers who get master’s degrees. In fact, that was “a mistake.”

All of the above is the judgment of the Republicans’ House majority leader, Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, who made these startling admissions Thursday night during what might be called an interrogation by the Hibriten High School Parent Teacher Association.

To his credit, Starnes didn’t dodge or try to explain away his votes in favor of measures he admitted were flawed. He took the incoming fire for nearly two hours.

The crowd seemed to appreciate his candor, even if not his votes.

It’s reasonable to ask the question: How do you vote in favor of things that you say are “wrong,” “a mistake” or “bad”?

We fixated on that quite a while, but the more it rolled around we thought about something else: Traditionally, being a member of the leadership team in your party means that once a decision is made by the leadership, even if you personally oppose it, you throw your support behind it and you work to convince wavering members of your party to do the same. That is one of the ways legislatures avoid paralysis.

That is exactly the system that has broken down in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Tea Party members would rather be right than get anything done, and see nothing wrong, sad or destructive in the quixotic pursuit of impossible dreams no matter the consequences. In that environment, House Speaker John Boehner often has trouble speaking for anyone but himself as even his leadership team sometimes fails to back him.

Starnes, in other words, explained his votes as his duty as a good soldier in the Republican Party. Presented a final compromise package that combined measures he favored with a few he did not, he accepted it.

You shouldn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

We fervently hope, however, that Starnes and other Republicans who are telling folks in their home districts about the wrong decisions and mistakes they made will return to Raleigh in the spring intent on fixing those things.