EDITORIAL: Statemanship has become a bad thing in Jeff City

Jan. 18—This is no way to govern.

On Thursday, the Missouri Freedom Caucus announced it is taking the state hostage.

In a statement, the group said "desperate times call for desperate measures" and that it plans to block all proposed gubernatorial appointments until it gets initiative petition reform, which the caucus argues is "broken."

So, three weeks into the session, and Jefferson City is locked up. We expected it, just not this quickly.

We can have debates about the role of the initiative petition in Missouri, and whether the process is broken and needs reformed. For the record, we've argued that it works and should be left alone. But that is not the issue here.

The issue here is a tantrum by the Missouri Freedom Caucus, which puts the monkey in monkey wrench.

Recently, one of the group's members said: "The time for statesmanship is over."

Good grief ... statesmanship ... over.

The go-to dictionary we use in the Globe newsroom defines a statesman as one "who exercises leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship," and statesmanship as leadership marked by "wisdom" and "breadth of vision."

Webster's also defines statesman as "a wise, skillful, and respected political leader."

Those used to be values we wanted in a leader. They are the values most needed now in Jefferson City.

Formerly the Conservative Caucus, the group rebranded itself and is now affiliated with the National Freedom Caucus, which, The Kansas City Star reported, gives it "access to staff members and attorneys who can review and vet bills in Missouri."

But this is exactly what the Missouri Freedom Caucus has been bemoaning — out-of-state influence.

They're the reason the Missouri Senate has been hobbled the last couple of years. State Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, recently told the Kansas City Star that the caucus seems bent "to the direction of obstruction."

Phill Brooks, who has been covering the Missouri Statehouse for more than 50 years, wrote after the last session: "The closing days of the Missouri Legislature were among the most dysfunctional I've covered in more than half a century."

This being an election year, a lot of this is posturing and posing — the opposite of political leadership.

Republicans would do well to remember that the entire party is being judged by its ability to govern — not just members of that caucus.

As for their argument that desperate times call for desperate measures, we would argue that they call for leadership — wise, skillful political leadership.

In a word: Statesmanship. Now that's the way to govern.