We must overcome divided government
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 07:10
Americans work together every single day. A disagreement over where to cut the budget does not stop houses from being built. Completely opposing views on how the health care system should be run do not stop nurses and doctors from giving patients the care they need each day. The disagreements around us are so vast, yet people still get their jobs done each day.
So why has Congress stopped doing its job? The 112th Congress tied its all-time lowest approval rating in August, as it reached an abysmal 10 percent. Since being sworn into office in early 2011, this Congress has enacted just 178 laws out of 11,950 bills before it. Passing 1.5 percent of all bills introduced falls far below the average of 5.6 percent from 1999 to 2008 (according to GovTrack.us).
With that said, not every bill is good, and bills involving new spending should be scrutinized more than ever today. But the least productive Congress since the end of World War II does not bode well for this country.
A dangerous road of gridlock and continued failed policies lie ahead if our government does not begin responding to our problems. This election is not about getting one party out of power and inserting another.
It’s about electing politicians who will compromise to tackle the major issues facing 311 million Americans. It’s about replacing current Congressional leaders with ones whose goal is to find a common solution, not just their solution. These issues will not solve themselves, and Congress will definitely not solve them as long as we continue to re-elect those who have no intentions to reach across the aisle.
However, we have even stopped re-electing those who reach across the aisle.
In 2010, Senator Bob Bennett, a conservative Republican from Utah, was defeated in his primary, largely because of his support of the bipartisan financial bailout.
Senator Dick Lugar, a moderate Republican who has served Indiana in the United States Senate since 1977, will not be returning in January. Lugar was targeted by Tea Party Republican Richard Mourdock for his work with Democrats on nuclear disarmament. Mourdock later gave his view of bipartisanship, "I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view." Unfortunately, this has become the dominating view of Congressional Republicans.
In this 112th Congress, the Republican-led House of Representatives has voted 33 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – knowing the Democratic-led Senate would not vote for a repeal.
In 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, went so far as to say, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
At a time when millions of Americans are still without jobs, it says a great deal about Republican leaders who focus on making political statements, not helping their constituents.
This November, Americans must stand up for themselves and tell Congress who they’re working for. Americans must make the choice to vote for candidates they believe will put the country before petty political differences. It has been done for decades upon decades. Our country did well while it lasted.
Of all lines from this election season, the one which has stood out most to me was what Sen. Marco Rubio said at the Republican convention: "[This election] is a choice about what kind of country we want America to be."
We have clear choices about what we want in this election and who we want leading us. The American people deserve a Congress that works for them, and that can only be done by qualified leaders willing to work together, just as Americans do all across this country every day.