Imagine you are a 4th grade student. Your class begins a project to create a piece of legislation and see it all the way through the legislative process. Kind of like a real life “Schoolhouse Rock” experience without the music. Still pretty cool though, right?
The bill need not be anything of great magnitude. In fact, such a bill probably wouldn’t get them anywhere. Instead, the 4th graders decided to attempt to create an official “state raptor” which would be the Red Tail Hawk. They worked and got several sponsors for their bill, House Bill 373. The bill was one line stating that the hawk would be the official raptor. The bill wouldn’t cost anyone anything, and it would probably go a long way to ensuring these young people would remain engaged with government and civics as they get older.
Of course, Republicans could have none of that. The 4th graders went to the State House and sat in the gallery where GOP lawmakers mocked and insulted their bill before killing it. No decorum and no deference to the fact that these were 4th graders not a liberal activist group.
Again, imagine being that you are a 4th grader and when you arrive back home, you have the following conversation with your mother:
4th grader: Hi Mom
Mom: Hi, sweetie. How was your day?
4th grader: O.K. I guess. We went on that field trip today to the State House to see if our bill passed to make the Red Tail Hawk the state’s official raptor.
Mom: That’s great, sweetie. How did it go? Did it pass?
4th grader: No. Mom, what’s planned parenthood? Is that a place where people are ripped limb from limb? And what does limb from limb mean? And what’s a limb?
Mom: Honey? Slow down …Why would you ask me all that?
4th grader: One of the guys there said our raptor should be their official bird. Also mom, do we have a state hot dog?
Mom: I don’t think so sweetie, why are you asking me that?
4th grader: Well, I guess another one of the guys was saying our idea was stupid then. I don’t know why we wasted our time. Those guys are jerks. They don’t care about what anybody thinks or wants. I’m going to go play video games mom, O.K.?
And there is the end of that kid ever caring about his government again. The GOP has created more disengaged or totally disenfranchised citizens of the future. Citizens that will be low information voters, at best. And by the way, the GOP House members really did say what the child alluded to with the kids there looking on in the gallery:
As Nh1.com in New Hampshire reported today, Rep. Warren Groen, a Republican from Rochester said, “It grasps them with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.”
Rep. John Burt, a Republican from Goffstown said, “Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn’t have in front of us, we’ll be picking a state hot dog next.”
In a 133-to-160 vote the Republican dominated New Hampshire House killed the bill and maybe any civic enthusiasm of some 9-and-10-year old children for life.
Sad and unfortunate.
I am not saying the Legislature needed to pass the bill to appease the kids, although it’s hard to find a decent reason not to. The bill is harmless to everyone and apolitical, but they didn’t need to bring partisan politics into it. And the GOP legislators certainly didn’t need to be so brutal in the treatment of their bill. Again, with the 4th graders in the gallery looking on.
The legislature could have voted down the bill with a professionalism that respected the work the children put in, or they could have simply chosen to put off the bill for another day through a committee referral. But they didn’t. They chose to show everyone once again just how tone deaf and heartless they are when they aren’t being coached by someone behind the scenes.
Another shameful day for the New Hampshire Republicans.