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Never, ever retaliate

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In the middle of April 2014, I finished my work for the day at the House of Representatives and drove to the Cedar Ridge neighborhood at 220th and MacArthur. It was the commencement of campaign season and for the next few months my family and I would make thousands of visits door to door.

State Rep.  Jason Murphey

State Rep. Jason Murphey

I quickly noticed the glaring contrast between two very different worlds.

The world I left at the Capitol was consumed by inter-chamber politics, the intensity of which seemed stronger in recent years.

These politics occur when members of one chamber, such as the House or Senate, unite to challenge each other or the Governor. A real or perceived offense results in retaliation which can set off a series of secondary retaliatory strikes. Finally the legislative session comes to an end, the feuding stops, legislators return to their home districts, and within days they may not even remember the reason for feuding. This is little comfort for taxpayers who are forced to fund this expensive game.

It is all too easy for a newly elected official to get caught in the trap of commiserating with those from his own legislative chamber and participating in the attacks on the other chamber or the Governor. It is also an effective tool by which very savvy legislators who have been in office for a while and know how the game is played, can manipulate the new or naive legislators into making policy decisions based on a dislike or strategy against the other chamber or Governor. When the other chamber or Governor retaliate, they fall into the trap of savvy politicians who are manipulating the game. Due to the retaliation, a perceived offense has now become a real offense — and the fight is on.

I would suggest that one of the wisest rules of public service to which all elected officials should adhere is never, ever to retaliate!

A wise public servant will determine that no matter the egregiousness of the action against him, he will not respond in kind but will adjudicate policy regardless of personality and conflict. Retaliation consumes the emotions, energies and talents of the elected official, may actually place him in a weaker position, allows others to manipulate him, and does a great disservice to taxpayers in general.

In stark contrast to the politics of the Capitol, Cedar Ridge provides the quintessential illustration of real world Oklahoma. One of District 31’s newest neighborhoods, Cedar Ridge is now nearing completion and has all the energy one might expect from a brand new community.

As I went door to door through the neighborhood, I encountered hard-working Oklahomans living their lives and raising their families. For all of the energy being spent by politicians at the Capitol, very few who live in the real world had any idea of the political infighting. They didn’t know or care whether the House, Senate or Governor were right or wrong. And I, for one, wasn’t about to drag them into that fight by talking about who was being blamed for doing what, or who was right or wrong. I figure that would have probably been one of the fastest ways by which I could lose their vote – and for good reason.

As I contemplated on this example of two very different worlds, I determined within myself to do whatever I could to avoid falling into the trap of political infighting. I wasn’t re-elected by local residents to go to war with the Senate or the Governor. I was re-elected to adjudicate policy on its merits according to a clearly delineated set of principles and values and absent personality-based politics. This is what I am endeavoring to do.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.

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