After four years of watching the news and cringing at the ineptitude of Congressional leadership, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for a change. Many of you may feel the same, but the changes which are necessary will take a revolution in political thought. Not only must we ensure that our representatives vote to protect the Constitution, but that they also will “advance the flag.”
After attending a town hall with my local Congressman, Rep. Dejarlis, I realized the important questions aren’t being asked. “Why did you twice vote for John Boehner to be Speaker? Why wouldn’t you support the resolution that Sen. Lee is proposing whether you think it will succeed or not? If you would be happy not accepting federal benefits and exemptions that Congress enjoys, why aren’t you leading an amendment which would remove them?”
Instead, I watched the bussed in illegal immigrants and Tea Party faithful whose party they’d crashed, setup their silent protest. If the questions weren’t from the folks waving signs from the Organizing for America playbook, they were asking the Congressman questions they already knew or should have known the answers to. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were plants for applause lines.
The single most important vote that any member of Congress will cast is who they elect for the party’s leadership, a.k.a. the Speaker of the House. This affects everything from committee chairmen, messaging, and ultimately votes. Leadership and their strategy, or lack thereof, is why we lead with the Ryan budget which was moderate, instead of the bolder NRCC budget which would have balanced the budget in five years. Why not use the Ryan budget as a plan B, a “compromise?” It’s why republicans fold on the debt ceiling time and again and also the reason why the Senate hasn’t bothered to pass a budget in 5 years. Leadership matters.
I had the privilege to attend a lecture by an Israeli professor named Dr. Moshe Sharon. Dr. Sharon was extremely knowledgeable about the current situation in the Middle East and, having been an advisor during the 1979 and 1993 Peace Talks, he had some incredible insights on the process. However, it was the art of negotiation and his experiences offering unheeded advice to the Israeli government which reminded me of our current situation in Washington and the frustrating ineptitude we frequently witness.
Dr. Sharon penned an article, Rules of the Bazaar , which takes the principles learned in the Arab marketplace and applies them to diplomatic negotiations. The Arabs have learned lessons such as, never be the first to suggest anything to the other side, walk away even 100 times, and never postpone a problem for a later occasion. They’re masters of commerce practiced in trading for over 2000 years. The Israelis, and Republicans, on the other hand, are far more “European.” They look for quick results and are content paying 500 dollars for a 25 dollar rug.
If this is to change, it must begin with us and our manner of questioning our delegates. While policy questions are important to understand, they are largely asked and answered in the press. In the information age we have access to these answers at our finger tips and if we don’t, there is no one to blame but ourselves. Instead, let’s do what the press seems incapable of: asking tough questions and demanding answers.
The unfortunate answer to why more people don’t buck the party leadership is simple; they’ll lose the power and support needed to win elections. Examples have been made; just ask Reps. Huelskamp, Amash, and others who have challenged the establishment. Others are convinced that they’ll never win another election without backing, and they may be right. On the contrary, some of the most popular Senators like Cruz, Paul, and Lee have all fought against the GOP and are winning the conversation.
Senator Cruz used grassroots enthusiasm to defeat an opponent who outspent him 5 to 1. Sen. Paul thrashed Mitch McConnell’s handpicked person to take over that seat. Politicians must know, when they work to shackle the government, money or power from Washington will not defeat them.
Negotiation skills are the single most important skill of our elected officials. We need the people representing us who we’d take along to buy a new car. We need them to select even more cutthroat negotiators for leadership if we’re ever to see true progress.
Currently, those negotiating on our behalf would make a used car salesman wet himself in glee; just look at Chuck Schumer’s face most of the time. As we vet and question our “friends” in Congress they should be pushed to stand out, reject the leadership, and stand together to gain the restoration we desperately need. Who knows, they just might get themselves re-elected.