In Politics, Power Is Always No. 1

Larry Price
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Wednesday - April 14, 2010
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It is interesting that when we see people using power, especially ourselves, we see it as a good force and wish we had more. When others use it against us, particularly when it is used to thwart our goals or ambitions, we see it as evil.

Do you get that feeling these days when legislators use their power to take something from one group (the haves)and give it to another more friendly group (the have-nots)?

What is political power realistically?

It is an important social process that is often required to get things done or accomplished by interdependent systems. As the legislature grinds to a halt, there are lessons to be learned in observing the political process this time around.


There are two lessons to be learned. First, life is a matter of individual efforts, ability and achievement. Second, there were right answers and wrongs answers every day of the session. There are decisions made that were painfully received by the groups they affected. About decisions, and I have said it before in these columns, a decision by itself changes nothing. It all depends on implementation science. After the moment the decision is made, we cannot possibly know if it is a good or bad decision. That happens only as the consequences of the decision become known to all sides.

We invariably spend more time living with the consequences of our decisions than we do in making them. Let’s face it, taxpayers are not necessarily rationalizing individuals. As I said in last week’s column, the match between our attitudes and our behaviors often derives from the adjusting of our attitudes and our behaviors that are often derived from our the adjusting our attitudes, after the fact, to conform to our past actions and their consequences.

In most political organizations, once a decision is made, more effort is usually expended in securing credit or assigning blame rather than in working to improve the decision.


When you come right down to it, the furlough idea was an easy decision for most to ratify. The important actions may not be the original choices, but rather what subsequent actions were taken to make things work out is what really matters in the long run.

What this suggests is that we have to be less concerned about the quality of the decision at the time we make it and concern ourselves more with adapting the new decisions and actions to the information we learned as events unfolded. Seriously, who knew the parents of elementary students would be most upset about furlough Fridays?

It might be a little late for some of our legislators to learn a very important skill - learning how to manage the consequences of their decisions.

After all, power is not employed when there are no differences in perspectives or when no conflicts exists.

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