â€śA political party is an alliance of like-minded people who work together to win elections and control of the government. Political parties compete against one another for political power and for the ability to put their philosophies and policies into effect.â€ť
That may be the dictionary definition but, because the members of each party are human, thereâ€™s much more to it than that high-minded description. Even for the most dedicated member of a political party, there is the lure of power, of winning and career security, even advancement.
Thatâ€™s why it was so remarkable that a small group of Democratic state legislators voted for a Republican-proposed budget this weekend - six Democrats in the House, three in the Senate.
Itâ€™s rare to see this kind of defiance. In general, elected officials vote with their party, at least in part because they share similar values and in part because failure to do so can bring political consequences.
Certainly, we have seen political courage before. Just this year, U.S. Senator John McCain, a lifelong Republican, defied his party and voted against a proposal to â€śrepeal and replaceâ€ť the Affordable Care Act, single-handedly putting an end to that effort.
Of course, when he did so, the Congress was confronted with the same dilemma that our General Assembly now faces: where do we go from here?
Would it be naĂŻve to hope that, if more of our leaders, both state and national, show the same level of courage, we could finally see progress - and cooperation - both on the state budget and on the many issues facing the U.S. Congress?