Politics, not leadership, keeps governor’s road plan in dark
Sunday, July 13, 2014 12:00 AM
Politics is an interesting animal. We love it, we hate it. We’ve even heard some people describe it as akin to marriage, but we’d like to think a marriage is far better.
There is the blame game, the finger pointing, the boasting, the posturing. There are the politicians who turn the spotlights on themselves at opportune moments and those who douse the light quickly when they become the center of unwanted attention and scrutiny. Some are adept at putting on a suit of Teflon when deflection is needed while others are equally adept at donning a suit of Stickum when they want all the credit. Human nature? Sure, but it is behavior that is magnified ten-fold among most politicians.
Take the governor’s race in South Carolina for example. Gov. Nikki Haley has been criticized lately for being a bit of a tease. She said she has a great plan for getting our failing and crumbling highway and bridge system back in top-notch shape, but she won’t share that plan until January. Yep, January. Let’s see, that would be two months after the election that pits her against Democratic repeat rival state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, as well as independent Republican candidate Tom Ervin. Yes, there are a couple of others running -- Steve French and Morgan Reeves -- but they will be even smaller on the radar screen than the more visible Ervin.
We agree with the critics. If the governor has such a grand plan, especially one she claims will not include an increase in the state’s gas tax, which has not been raised since the mid-1980s, then she should share that with the residents, businesses and industries that rely heavily on our state’s road system. No need to be coy, Roy? That line might be so in a Paul Simon tune, but it is not the way of the political world. Of course she is going to hold her hand close to her chest and not reveal it. Why would she? Her opponents would immediately jump on the plan and tear it apart, piece by piece. But then again, not revealing the plan also opens the door to another question, another criticism: Does a plan really exist, or is this but another case of a politician waving an impressive thick folder labeled “Plan” but is only filled with blank pages?
Obviously the governor must at least have something of a framework cobbled together, but is that all it is? A framework? Is she offering the equivalent of a spec building in hopes of attracting something to fill it?
And that’s what makes this and other such political posturing so maddening. Do the voters trust there really is a solid plan behind the governor’s back? Wanting, needing a solution to the mess our highways and bridges are in, will the mere promise of a plan be all that is needed to land the votes and secure her re-election?
At the end of the day, we’d prefer a more straightforward message from the sitting governor. Her job is to lead the state in the here and now, not jockey for re-election and toy with the voters. After all, Haley has billed herself as a champion of transparency and open government. Keeping the “Plan” folder under lock and key runs counter to that approach to the job.
Ah, but then again, politics is and always will remain an interesting animal.