What is “The Delaware Way”?

What is “The Delaware Way”?

This is a question I have pondered for quite some time, though more intentionally lately than in the past. I finally broke down and typed the question into Google, and I read through several bits and pieces of articles where that phrase was used. Fascinatingly, the best, most concise definition I found was in a Delaware Online article from 2014, wherein former Delaware Supreme Court Chief E. Norman Veasey explained that the phrase should mean, “the good Delaware practice of seeking a “civilized, bipartisan approach for finding solutions to the State’s business and political problems”.”

What fascinated me about that was, earlier in the same paragraph, Veasey acknowledged that the phrase is more commonly used to describe Delaware’s “pay-to-play” type of political maneuvering, wherein gifts are given in exchange for legislative action…or inaction. In yet another 2014 Delaware Online article, former DNREC head Collin O’Mara also remarked that “The Delaware Way” is referred to by most people as a way to get things done through closed door discussions.

This made me feel a lot better about the way I’ve always perceived “The Delaware Way”. You give something, you get something, and no one is the wiser. There are a few recent examples of high-profile pieces of legislation that have been vetoed, “held hostage”, and/or “replaced” by Delaware politicians, and better bloggers than I have covered those stories. While I’m not inclined to bow to paranoid theories on the inner workings of the government, I will say that it’s quite clear to me, an outsider, that there ARE inner workings, and that those inner workings are not for public view. And this is what troubles me about “The Delaware Way”.

Do the ends justify the means? That is another question I’ve long pondered, especially as more and more evidence of backdoor deals come into the spotlight. There is absolutely nothing civilized about the fact that members of the General Assembly will refuse to allow certain pieces of legislation sponsored by certain individuals to be heard, regardless of their merit. There is nothing bipartisan about a Governor who vetoes legislation that passed by huge margins in the House and Senate, legislation supported by many entities in the state, because of his devotion to his own ideologies.

When it comes to democracy, this type of behind-the-scenes rigging of the game does not serve the best interests of anyone, and certainly not those of the people being governed.

One final note: I know that it may seem to people involved in Delaware politics that they are truly making gains and doing the best with good intentions. And I do not doubt that. But the fact remains that, as a direct result of this hidden negotiating, trust is eroding, and when trust goes, the goodwill of the people goes. Elected officials may not be voted out; change may not occur at that noticeable level. But the very facts that fewer and fewer individuals turn out for elections, that lawsuits have been filed that will effectively undermine the very fabric of the working class, that so many individual voices have cropped up and refused to be silenced… These things all speak to the discontent of the people. A wise leader would heed the signs and work towards transparency.

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