Note to GOP legislators: Take one crisis at a time

Last week's Tea Party protest in Olympia was a clear sign of the public's growing frustration with the federal government.

Watching Congress in action, it's hard not to sympathize with the anti-government sentiments expressed by the several hundred demonstrators at the rally.

Regardless of what party controls Congress or the White House, the dominance of special interests over federal policy appears unabated.

People are weary of failed leadership. For some, the frustration has sparked a renewed focus on the 10th Amendment's constitutional limits on federal powers.

But the slew of so-called sovereignty bills introduced by Republican legislators in Olympia won't fix the problems plaguing Washington, D.C.

If anything, such blatant pandering to the disaffected will feed the cynicism that's infecting the public's view of government and politicians.

It's not that there aren't legitimate concerns about federal encroachment on states' rights. The question of constitutional limits on the federal government's authority is as old as the nation.

But the sovereignty bills introduced in Olympia -- some of them approved in other states as part of a national 10th Amendment movement -- are an ineffectual diversion from the Legislature's real problems.

Frankly, it makes sense to let these other states fight the inevitable court battles that the movement will spark. In any case, the proposals have no chance of gaining traction in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Even if that weren't true, we don't need any sideshows until the state figures out how to deal with the crisis at hand.

State unemployment continues to climb, with the latest rate reaching 9.5 percent. The state budget is $2.6 billion in the hole.

Last week's Tea Party rally prompted a response from Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, House speaker pro tem.

Morris cautioned, "We have only 60 days to get us back on the path to economic recovery. We need constructive help from the minority party to find middle ground, not anti-American measures from the fringe of the political spectrum."

After Democrats were handed their hats Tuesday in the Massachusetts Senate race, Morris might want to rethink his definition of the political fringe.

But he's spot on about the need for Republican help in finding bipartisan solutions to the state's most pressing problems.

It's Olympia, so some political grandstanding is expected, especially in an election year.

But it's past time to set priorities. Resolving the centuries-old debate over states' rights can wait awhile longer.