Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Dear Voters: Come 2014, throw all the bums out!

My all-time favorite politician was former Maine U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe. A "New England Republican," she was socially liberal and fiscally conservative -- representative of the region's wealth but also its tolerance.

Dear Voters: Come 2014, throw all the bums out!

Sen. Ted Cruz is flanked by fellow Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee as they express their frustration after the Senate restored funding for President Obama´s health law.
Sen. Ted Cruz is flanked by fellow Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Mike Lee as they express their frustration after the Senate restored funding for President Obama's health law.

My all-time favorite politician was former Maine U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe. A “New England Republican,” she was socially liberal and fiscally conservative -- representative of the region’s wealth but also its tolerance.

When Snowe announced her resignation last year, she said, “I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions," and adding, “I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. “

Unfortunately, Snowe was right. Nothing has changed. One can argue things have gotten worse.

Her Maine colleague who remains in the Senate, Susan Collins, also a “New England Republican” by ideology, will more likely be labeled a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by her GOP colleagues or perhaps even a traitor by some. All that for crossing the aisle and supporting an end to this ridiculous budget showdown.

But don’t try to figure out where I stand so fast. Clearly, I’m not with the Republicans on this one. Nor am I with the Democrats.

Both parties are equally responsible.

I asked my Facebook community where they stood on this. As you can imagine, they were all over the map.

Start with Jeff Block, a local Realtor: “I thought the ACA [Affordable Care Act] was enacted by Congress, signed by the President, and ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. If Congress has the votes to repeal it, it should do so. Can't get your own way...tie it to funding the government. That is how Americans will see it.”

My cousin, Andrea Green Santos, chimed in as well: “Get the Affordable Health Care Act off the table, because repeal isn't happening and the rest is a piece of cake. Instead we've got ideological warfare on a President's signature issue, which he will never agree to delay or repeal, nor should he. Remember, it's a big part of the reason why he was elected and re-elected and those elections have consequences."

Can’t argue with either Jeff’s or Andrea’s logic. If you can’t kill a project, then just take away its funding. That’s how the people will see it.

Then there’s Tania Gail, a conservative blogger, who offers the flip side, telling me “the buck stops with the prez and he has signaled he will not compromise unless he gets 100% his own way. How many kittens and grandmoms' will die because Democrats will not compromise?”

Valid point, especially since our president has made clear his unwillingness to meet with the Republicans.

Enough for Obama’s broken promises to work with the GOP.  Obama, too, gets blame if the government shuts down.

I contend that governing is the art of compromise.

But perhaps I am wrong, too!

“Compromise allowed slavery to continue in the newly formed United States of America for 80 years. Compromise is not always a good thing,” said my friend Joe Deegan.

Valid point.

But are there good ways in which we can compromise?

I say yes.

But all sides have shown an equal unwillingness to do just that.

“Everyone seems to want everything 100% their way,” said Mayfair resident Donna LePera. “That's not representing a nation.”

And the man that represents our nation is not only guilty of wanting everything his way, but he has backpedaled, to put it politely.

Any Democrat claiming that the Republicans have been blackmailing the Obama Administration need to look in a mirror and remember Obama’s famous and now broken promise that Americans could keep their current healthcare coverage if they wanted to.

Nope. That’s not a conjured up right wing or Tea Party tale. It’s the truth.

The Associated Press – not Fox News – said, “Obama said exactly that. It was an empty promise, made repeatedly,” adding, “Nothing in the health care law guarantees that people can keep the health insurance they already have. Costs can rise, benefits can change and employers can drop coverage.”

The GOP, the Democrats and the President are all guilty of bringing us to where we are today.  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

So whether the government shuts down or not, U-Turn wants to know: Where do we go from here to fix the problem?

Jules Mermelstein, who teaches government at Upper Dublin High School, has a brilliant idea. “We need to start with non-gerrymandered districts (that leads incumbents to be more worried about a primary challenge from an extreme in their party than a general election challenge).”

Indeed, one of the biggest problems we have is there are too many “safe” Congressional districts in our country, where the only way to defeat an incumbent is with a primary challenge. The problem there is the incumbent may be vulnerable to the extremes of his or her own party. A way to fix this is to stop gerrymandering “safe” districts by design, and instead let them evolve naturally.

As long as districts remain “safe,” we can expect more of the same – extreme elements from both parties defeating moderates ... moderates like Susan Collins.

And while this an extreme approach that I will personally take, I will share with you my personal strategy for what I will be doing in 2014. You are welcome to follow me or not.

I will be voting against every single incumbent.

I am ready to start over.

Yes, if I were able to vote for her, that even means Susan Collins, my current favorite politician. It would be great to keep some courageous, good government types like her and excise the deadwood. It would be great to allow continuity in the House (we already have it guaranteed in the Senate by having 1/3 of the body staggered every two years).

But despite naysayers who would claim that a clean sweep would waste time by forcing the new Congress to reinvent the wheel, I give the next generation more credit. The truth is that Congress has performed so badly that only 10 percent of the people said this past week that they approved of its performance.

In sports, you can fire a manager, trade some players, and cut the rest. Sometimes, you have to take it for the team.

In this case, not only does the entire team have to go, but the league needs to clean house every two years just as college does with its athletes every 4 years.

Congress has failed us one time too many. Egomaniacs reading children’s stories when they run out of anything intelligent to say should stop wasting our precious time and just resign. Putting on a nonstop charade to stop a vote shouldn’t earn a filibusterer a road to the governor’s mansion.

But that’s what the Republicans and the Democrats are doing.  There are no false equivalencies here. Both are equally guilty, and they deserve the same sentencing.

We simply don't need blowhards who lack civility and humility representing us. We sorely need a new, completely clean slate.

Right now – even as a government shutdown looms – we need to start encouraging reasonable, rational, and common sense citizens in our community -- Democrats, Republicans, and others -- to put their hats in the ring for Congress in 2014.

Just do me one favor: Make sure you choose someone whose bladder won’t let them speak for more than 15 minutes at a time.

John Featherman
About this blog
John Featherman is a contributor at Philly.com and writes about politics and consumer-related issues. Reach John at john@featherman.com.

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