We don’t usually praise people for simply doing their jobs. It’s like writing about the dogs that don’t bite or the houses that don’t burn down. We assume that everyone has a job to do and if they get a paycheck, they should consider themselves thanked.

But in politics these days, ordinary behavior can seem like an extraordinary event, and we don’t want to let moments of normalcy pass without comment.

So we salute Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, for delivering one of these moments. In his role as the leader of half of one of the three branches of government, Thibodeau has called on members of his own party to stop petty personal attacks against Democrats, which poison the public’s opinion of government and make it harder for lawmakers of good will to get together and pass a state budget. In other words, he did his job.

Wow! You don’t see that every day.

Thibodeau’s words last week sounded like something from a simpler time, when politics ended on Election Day and lawmakers prided themselves on their ability to govern.

“We’ve got problems to solve,” Thibodeau said. “We ought to focus on them, there are plenty of things to have disagreements about. Let’s have disagreements about things that are important to the people that sent us here.”

He was responding to a steady stream of escalating attacks coming from the state’s Republican Party headquarters, closely matching the talking points delivered by Gov. Paul LePage in various talk-radio appearances. Together they have been hammering state Rep. Ryan Tipping, D-Orono, who took a job between legislative sessions working for the successful Question 2 referendum, which asked voters if they wanted to raise money for education by increasing the income tax on the highest earners.

LePage and the state party have been demanding that Tipping resign his co-chairmanship of the Taxation Committee — even his seat in the Legislature. The party is now circulating a petition that accuses House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, of covering up corruption because she won’t punish Tipping, even though there is no evidence that he violated any conflict-of-interest rules.

Political parties have a job to do. They recruit candidates, raise money and assist in campaigns. It’s important work, but it should not get in the way of governing.

Legislators like Thibodeau have a much harder job. They have to study issues and sit through hours of meetings and floor debate, while negotiating with people representing every interest imaginable. In the end, their biggest accomplishments are compromises that are often belittled by newspaper editorial boards and political opponents on all sides for going either too far or not far enough.

The job of governing gets even harder when the political operatives get in the way, like the people in the Maine Republican Party are doing right now. The most effective check on excessive partisanship is for respected leaders inside the party to speak up.

That’s Thibodeau’s job, and he’s doing it. Maybe it will catch on.

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