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The Grand Opposition Party

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Perhaps the most telling tidbit from last week’s decision to pull the American Healthcare Act of 2017 from the House floor was this comment from Speaker Paul Ryan:

We were a 10-year opposition party where being against things was easy to do,” a clearly disappointed Ryan said Friday. “And now, in three months’ time, we’ve tried to go to a governing party, where we have to actually get … people to agree with each other in how we do things.

As a party, Republicans had ten years to develop a real alternative to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare/ACA). Years later, all they could come up with was a patchwork quilt of tweaks to the ACA that reduced coverage and did nothing to change the trajectory of costs or premiums.

No wonder nobody wanted to vote for it.

With control of both houses of Congress, Republicans could have passed a law that moved healthcare in this country forward. Instead they chose opposition politics and tried to score political points with a symbolic “repeal and replace” of the ACA.

Instead of remaining the opposition party, the Republicans could have become the “healthcare party” and unveiled a plan to get us out of the awkward middle ground that the ACA put us in.

Sadly that’s not going to happen. Here’s the President’s reaction:

“The good news is they (the Democrats) now own health care. They now own Obamacare.”

And:

“The best thing that can happen is that we let the Democrats, that we let Obamacare continue, they’ll have increases from 50 to 100 percent,” he said. “And when it explodes, they’ll come to me to make a deal. And I’m open to that.”

What I think he means by “best” is the best thing politically for himself. A truly “best” outcome would have been an actual plan to fix healthcare. Instead we see the President pushing legislative failure onto the minority party so that Republicans can still play the opposition game instead of governing.

This said by Republican Kevin Cramer of North Dakota:

We have to do some soul-searching internally to determine whether or not we are even capable of functioning as a governing body,” […] “If ‘no’ is your goal, it’s the easiest goal in the world to reach.”

 

Do we have the right people?

When building a business you constantly ask yourself if you have the right people in place to accomplish the goal. Do we need to hire someone who can build this piece of the product or business, etc.

However, when it comes to government, we don’t ask the same critical questions.

Why? I believe it’s  because the two parties can’t articulate what it is that they stand for beyond opposing the other party.  Yes they both have written platforms but those read like a patchwork-quilt of aspirational ideas and  skirt the hard changes that need to be made (voting reform, single payer healthcare, etc.). It’s hard to find a coherent vision for the county inside either of these parties.

If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s next to impossible to elect the right people to lead you there.

Last week’s fiasco with healthcare was another missed opportunity and a giant waste of our country’s time, money and resources. We pay (in more ways than one) when politicians play these political games. It’s past time to start electing people that know how to build and fix broken systems like healthcare, job displacement, and education.

Sadly, we aren’t going to see many builder and fixer candidates because they don’t have a party that they can relate to…. yet.

 

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