For the better part of a year now, President Obama and Congressional Democrats have been promising a comprehensive health care reform bill. Despite promises of a bipartisan approach and working across party lines, the majority of the work towards this end has been decidedly uncompromising towards Republican ideals. With the recent election of Scott Brown as Senator from Massachusetts, a year’s worth of work has now come to a sudden and apparently irrevocable halt. The bill will likely never be passed and Congress has spent a year of fruitless work on absolutely nothing.
It is easy to blame Democrats, leveraging their filibuster-proof majority, who refused to compromise with Republicans. But, truth be told, there is plenty of blame to go around. Whether Republican or Democrat, anyone can see that the state of health care in the United States is wretched given that the United States is the most powerful country in the world. Nearly 1/3rd of U.S. citizens cannot afford any form of health insurance or even basic health care. This frightening statistic, especially among one of the worst recessions in the history of the country, shows how desperately we need our government to take some sort of action.
Yet, because the two parties cannot agree on the exact causes of this problem or the best solutions, they refuse to try to make any headway in the least towards mutually solving it. Instead, they put roadblocks up in front of each other and then try to sway public opinion to gain votes. And, unsurprisingly, the problem persists and worsens.
As previously stated, it is easy to blame Democrats, who, in lock step agreement, have blamed the state of health care on the health insurance industry. And, Republicans are right when they dismiss that single minded view. But Republicans are equally to blame in refusing any restrictions on the industry, instead insisting on an entirely different economic approach to solving the crisis. This refusal to compromise has created an impasse and maintaining good will with their political base is obviously more important for members of both parties than actually passing helpful legislation for all U.S. citizens.
As a parallel, consider what would happen if you or I were part of a product development team at the same company and we both decided to independently work on our own projects. Then months later when our boss sought to review our work, we revealed that we were each actually working on different, non-compatible projects, and as such the team had absolutely no results that could be produced. We would both be fired for incompetence and rightfully so.
Our Congressmen deserve to receive the same treatment. It is ludicrous to realize that if a Congressman is found in a sleazy hotel with a prostitute, he will almost definitely be kicked out of office, but the 535 congressmen can do no meaningful work for an entire year and not suffer any consequences. The first, while morally disreputable, has no impact on job performance, while the second would be a firing offense in every company around the world.
If Congress is unwilling to police job performance, and history proves this is the case, then it falls to the average citizen to do exactly that. No longer can we accept minimal results due to political pandering. The duty of a Congressman is to serve all citizens of his state or district, not just those who voted for him. This requires working across party lines and finding compromises so that the laws of the land are constantly improving the quality of life for everyone. When this duty is shirked, we, the citizens of the U.S., need to take action and remove the offender from office.
The process of actually removing a national elected official from office is cumbersome and slow. While successfully removing an official has high political impact, often the opposing political party takes it as a sign of approval for that party. This is not the message we need to send. We need to make it clear, to both parties, that all current Congressmen are to blame for situation and that no party is in the right.
The simplest way to do this is to vote against all incumbents in the upcoming 2010 elections. Every single Representative and 1/3rd of all Senators are up for reelection in 2010. That is over 450 Congressman who are trying to keep their livelihood. Even if only half of them are voted out of office, the impact would severe enough to shake the foundations of both major political parties.
Admittedly, taking this stance is not easy. It requires the average citizen to forgo party allegiances and simply vote for whoever is not the incumbent. In the polarized political landscape of America, this is impossible proposition for most Americans. For the most part, the 10% or so of unaligned Americans will have to make this political stand. Thankfully, even that small percentage is enough to swing the majority of elections in this country.
For the next nine months Americans will have to suffer from the implacable and uncompromising nature of our leaders in government. It is a small condolence that there is little more damage that these politicians can do in that time, given the current state of the country. But, when elections do come in November, we all need to take a stand and let our leaders know that we will not accept another two years regulatory standstill.