With the Legislature firmly in the hands of Republicans and the executive branch headed by a Democrat, what can Missourians realistically expect from state government this year, and in the next four years? Gov. Jay Nixon, in his inaugural address Monday, called for a bipartisan effort to work for the common good.

“The people of Missouri deserve — and expect — no less. And that is how I intend to lead,” the governor said.

Nixon’s final four years in heading state government present him with a major challenge. With the state becoming more and more conservative, and is expected to remain so in the near future, the governor faces four years of having a General Assembly in the control of the opposite party. Nixon is a moderate Democrat and on some issues appears to be not so far apart from the Republicans. That should mean room for compromise on some issues.

Some of the Republicans call Nixon a “do nothing” leader and it’s business as usual in Jefferson City. Other GOP lawmakers said Nixon failed to show leadership in his first four years and didn’t make known his views on some bills until they passed.

Looking back on his days in the state Senate, Nixon said in those days “cooperation was not considered a sign of weakness, but a prerequisite for progress. And progress is not partisan.”

Leadership also must be demonstrated by the leaders in the General Assembly, and that includes moves to get along with the governor. For the good of the state, they need to avoid being just opponents and willing to consider the governor’s positions. The governor must do the same thing.

What Missourians would like to see is regular meetings between the governor and the leaders in the General Assembly. Cooperation, compromises and the general welfare of the people should be the guiding principles, with an attitude of politics “be damned” prevailing.

Represent the people rather than the party is what people would like to see. That’s leadership!