Outside the ‘caucus discipline’
In legislative parlance, they label it “caucus discipline,” and, to the casual observer, you could conclude that it means, “Everyone in the caucus please be respectful of everyone else. Listen. Don’t argue and be polite.”
Ah, but that is not what it means. They call it “caucus discipline” to camouflage the real meaning — which is a sinister attempt to discourage individuals from straying from the party line and speaking their own minds.
You might be more familiar with the term “peer group pressure” which is exactly what this is. Once the leader of the caucus decides which direction he or she wants to go, the word goes out and the other lawmakers are expected to fall in line and vote with the leader.
To be fair, that is not hard-and-fast, and there is some wiggle room for the rank-and-file to do as they please, but, when it comes to those crunch issues that have strong partisan overtones and may be an opportunity to defeat the other party, the wiggling stops.
There have been instances where “free thinkers” who feel the leader’s decision is wrong and want to vote their own convections have been threatened with the loss of personal office staff, the loss of a committee chairmanship, or other punishment for breaking the caucus discipline.
So now comes the mild-mannered, unassuming and likable chap named state Sen. Ed McBroom, from the town of Vulcan, which is not in some outer space galaxy but the next best thing, the Upper Peninsula.
He is co-chair of a special House and Senate committee trying to take a deep dive into what happened on Nov. 3. The committee wants to know if there were any voting shenanigans and it has subpoenaed the Democratic secretary of state to turn over a mountain of documents that relate to how the election was conducted by Jocelyn Benson and company.
Oh, yeah — it’s important to know that the senator is a Republican and he is fully aware that the “party line” on the election, emanating from the White House to all the President Donald Trump loyalists, is that the election gig was “rigged” and that the election was “stolen” from the current White House occupant.
So, caucus discipline being what it is, you would expect Mr. McBroom, the dairy farmer with 200 cows in his back yard, to parrot that line and go into the committee investigation “knowing” that the president is right and it’s the committee’s mission to prove it.
“I’m trying to keep an open mind and be objective,” he tells the statewide public TV “Off the Record” audience.
When asked about the fraud charges, instead of saying, “Amen,” he says this:
“There will be some improprieties, some irregularities, glitches, human error will constitute most of what we find that would be problematic, (but) I don’t necessarily have an expectation that we’re going to find a vast throve of fraud … that doesn’t seem to be overly likely.”
And to put a point on his beliefs that are out-of-step with Trump Nation, he also says overturning the election in Michigan is “not my expectation.”
He better hope they don’t get OTR in the White House.
Obviously, there is some political risk saying what he said, because it is so counter to the thinking embraced by thousands of demonstrators who marched in the nation’s capital to advance the president’s argument.
But there he was, willing to take a stand. To tell the truth as it sees it at this moment. He was not closing the door, but he was not like others, suggesting the door was wide open to Mr. Trump winning this thing.
And he did that all while acknowledging that some might not be happy with the stuff he was saying.
Yet he did not bend to caucus discipline but said what he believed and his supporters in the good-government crowd would call that statesmanship.
As for his detractors …