People frequently ask me why I affiliated on my voter registration with the Utah Democratic party. They seem blown away when I explain Utah’s convention/caucus system and that the only way to fully participate in Utah politics is to affiliate officially with a party. And, frankly, the Utah Republicans wouldn’t have me, so it was easier to align with the Democratic party where I am a delegate and a member of several different groups within the party. As many people know, I am also an intern (through the Hinckley Institute of Politics) on a Democratic candidate’s campaign this year.
However, being a member of the Democratic Party has not all been lollipops and rainbows. It is still a political party, one that I do not agree with in its entirety, especially when I look at the its national platform. I have on occasion been criticized and chastised for “not being a good Democrat” and not supporting all of our balloted candidates. The thing is, there are some Republicans I respect and whose friendship I enjoy, as well as their commitment to making Utah a better place. I want to help this cause, so I support candidates that I like and can get behind.
Why the Republicans Should Win
Some of our best economic times in the post-war (post war meaning after World War II for our friends in Idaho) era have been when there is a tension between the executive and legislative branches of government. When the Democrats have someone in the White House, the Republicans have control of Congress. When the Republicans have the executive, and Democrats hold the national legislature. Things get done, people have to work together, and that dirty word “compromise” becomes a lot more standard than it is now.
When that tension is broken, and one party has one house, and the other party has another, things go awry. We see things come to a complete stop and stop working. The work of the people becomes the basis of partisanship and attacks as opposed to solving problems.
Recently, during an interview with Bill Maher, former Speaker, and current Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi stated that “The world we know it will come to an end if Republicans win control of Congress.”
Why? Simply because an opposition party is in control of the legislative branch?
The Democrats have had their chance. They were elected in 2006 and 2008 with a mandate, and despite it could only ram bills through without debate. The Republicans do the same thing when the check and balance tension is missing. That natural tension requires that the President, who has pretty much failed at what he was elected to do in both 2008 and 2012, to compromise. It is not the fault of the Republicans as much as it is the fault of the Democrats. Even by changing the rules, they (the Democratic Party) who have maintained control of the Senate by the slimmest margins, have been unsuccessful in their quest to fundamentally transform this country.
The President does not currently have to work with Speaker Boehner. He simply has to wait until a bill is passed by the House and handed to the Senate, where it is tabled, and held in legislative limbo. No meetings with the opposition. No compromise. It allows the President’s view of “my way or the highway” to prevail, and it isn’t really working out very well for our country.
Success is measured not by single bills but by entire terms
Now, I know some of you will point to the Affordable Care Act and other sundry laws and say “but he got healthcare, equal pay, blah blah blah blah blah” passed. Look! Obama is successful if you just ignore the republican (or tea-party) obstructionists!
STOP. JUST STOP. RIGHT NOW.
(side note: Can we stop with the whole “Tea-tard/teapublican/tebagger” stuff? It is 2014, not 2010/2012. We have serious issues as opposed to being divisive about party lines and ideology.)
Obama has been anything but successful. How many executive orders has he had to use to get things done? How many times have we come close to, or actually shut down, the government since Obama took office? How many great bills have been defeated or tabled in the Senate which would actually solve American problems, without even a debate?
With Senator Harry Reid refusing to allow bills to come to a vote (over 300 at last count) is it any surprise that when the Senate passes something the House holds those bills? Like Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill and the VA reform bills, and countless others.
You can’t run a company, or organization without a budget, so why do we allow Congress to do it?
Ask any businessperson if they would ever run their organization without a budget, even a simple one, to keep track of income and outgoing costs, and the answer will be unanimous; it is impossible to be successful without knowing how you’re bringing in and spending money.
And yet, why do we excuse Congress?
Since 2007, we have been running this country on “continuing resolutions” and when those are not renewed, we turn every crisis (that could have been avoided by having a budget in place) into a showdown at the OK Corral. We give people like Senator Mike Lee and Senator Ted Cruz the ammunition to shut down the government. We furlough employees, we lose money, and we lose services. But we make sure that the members of Congress gets paid. (We can talk about the proper role of government and services offered some other time.)
Who does it inconvenience? The citizens or those in Washington?
I will give you a hint. The only people in Washington that it hurts are staff members.
It gives ammunition to the minority party and we end up with someone like George W. Bush who uses it in their campaign platform. (Sit back, relax and just imagine President Rand Paul, or President Ted Cruz…..)
The way to solve a lot of the issues is to restore the tension between branches.
I know. It sounds crazy, but I want the Republican Party to take over control of the legislative branch. And lest you scream that they will stop everything Obama has on his platform because they hate him so much, let me just say that I sincerely doubt that. I think they want to be included. They have to realize that with the Democrats in control of the executive, and with a firm grip on the judicial branch, they will have to compromise.
The stalemate we have been in since 2009 isn’t working. It hasn’t. Congress is at its lowest approval ratings of all time since the 110th congress was seated. President Obama is barely better. So why not mix it up? Why not have the tension that has worked so well in the past restored?
Look at this chart from the Pew Research? When was approval in congress the highest? Simple. When that tension existed.
I, for one, think it is a good thing and maybe then we would see some real improvements and gains.
Maybe, just maybe, President Obama will learn how to compromise instead of trying to run roughshod over the Congress and to end up in the Supreme Court. There, even his own, liberal justice appointments side with the conservatives.
In politics one can’t take their ball and go home.
They can’t act like a grown version of Eric Cartman and his famous “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” You have to practice what you preach when it comes to working together. The President had a mandate and he has failed because he was unwilling to work with others. He has lost much of the political capital he had when he came into office. So let’s try something new. Let’s restore the tension between the branches.