Words and Power

Serving in a legislative body, one might have reason to contemplate power. There’s the kind of power where one has a title and fills the role of figurative and proceedural leader.  Usually there is a power structure associated with this authority and it can be, if it chooses, relatively absolute. There is in here the power to coerce from a titled role. By that person or group’s power, committee chairships are given or taken, bills are routed or held, authority to levy campaign dollars or sway donors and endorsers is coveted and rationed. There is the power of the majority. There is the power of authority and experience which, with simple consent or agreement, with a yes vote on an issue, brings others to follow. There is the power of persuasion, a gift for knowing colleagues, knowing the body as a whole, knowing when to speak and when not to, what to point out, what to leave out and what to simply imply. This power is delicate and can be over used or over ruled. There is hopefully too the power of organizing others to a common goal, working constantly to arrange, inform, bolster and hold others in place, together. Always, with a single word, some in a body such as this, have far, far more power, coercive and perhaps, by virtue of political party or membership in the majority, they have more persuasive power than others. Even if the electorate of the state or a district rallies later against an action, the action can still be taken. There can be consequences, but those come later. This is a heirarchical structure, bound in formality. At a word, all the organizing and persuasion in the world can come crashing down and democratic — one person, one vote — processes evoporate into whirring fans and shuffling papers. I remember this as I work. I have to. Yes, I walk delicately, gently at times, trying to help move a universe with the fickle power of words.

2 thoughts on “Words and Power

  1. Rob Miller - January 23, 2008

    Nicole, Thanks for the wonderful blog. I just found it yesterday, but have now subscribed. Keep up the great work!

  2. Tara Rowe - January 23, 2008

    It is refreshing to hear from a state legislator who “gets it.” Keep up the good work, Nicole!

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