When I was a kid, there was something worse than a punishment. It was hearing my Mom say, “Just wait until your Dad gets home.” When she said that, I knew I was in for it.
That is how this week has felt as we waited for Gov. Andy Beshear to deliver his new regulations related to COVID-19. He advertised it for a couple of days, teasing us with what was to come. The threats of the new shutdown have only increased anxiety among Kentuckians.
Don’t get me wrong. COVID-19 is real. It has affected my family directly. I’ve been to funeral visitations for friends whose family members died because of COVID-19. I’ve prayed with and tried to encourage friends who have been kept at a distance as the life of their isolated loved one drew to a close in a hospital. There has been real pain in 2020.
For the life of me, though, I don’t understand why the governor didn’t learn from the shellacking his party took during the state election. Kentuckians sent a clear message that they want him to work with Republicans in the state house. Many Kentuckians feel they haven’t been heard by state government since the General Assembly dismissed in a rush last spring.
It looked like he was going to let them in on the discussion on Tuesday, teasing us again about meeting with legislators.
What we learned on Wednesday was that the governor intends to keep legislative leaders at arm’s length at best. He met with them as promised but not for any advice. He just told them what he was going to do without further discussion. Being the Lone Ranger is not how you legislate. The governor, who has repeatedly said the pandemic is not a political issue, made an obvious political play on Wednesday as he kept House and Senate leaders out of the decision-making process. They took to social media to vent their frustrations and it’s hard to blame them. It will also likely make for a more contentious General Assembly session that it needed to be.
Broadening the conversation might have brought at least a little peace to the commonwealth. Kentuckians hear the governor through his mandates. The question is, does he hear the voters through Kentucky’s election results?
BRANDON PORTER is communications director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and editor of Kentucky Today.