When I was a kid growing up, I was a dreamer. I would share with my father some off-the-wall idea that I was absolutely sure would become life changing. Dad would offer advice, something he said he had had picked up from Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari: "Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference."
Ideas that supposedly “make a difference” are being floated by both political parties both in Washington as well as statehouses across the country. But too often, government has become too complicated for politicians to administer these ideas. What’s the old saying? 90% of life is execution and implementation. However, in the nation’s capitol, we find too much design and not enough performance. And both political parties shoulder the blame.
It’s become more and more obvious that we are faced with one party that does not know how to govern, and the other party that has no interest in governing. There is a growing caricature of an incompetent Obama Administration, and a Republican congress that takes juvenile glee in seeing the wheels of government grind to a halt.
The meltdown of the Obamacare computer system is just one more sign of democratic dysfunction in talking all the talk, but not being functionally able to walk the walk. What we have witnessed is not merely an embarrassing computer glitch -- it is an unmitigated debacle. The Affordable Care Act was passed 3 ½ years ago. With all this time to get it right, the system crashes and burns right out of the gate.
As Peggy Noonan put it in her recent Wall street Journal column: “All this from the world’s greatest, most technologically sophisticated nation, the one that invented the computer and Internet. So you’d think it would sort of work. And it didn’t. Which is a disaster.” The Democrats and the President have bragged that Obamacare is their most significant domestic achievement. But so far, it doesn’t work.
The person in charge of kicking off the Obamacare program is Kathleen Sebelius, who is Secretary of Health and Human Services. I know the lady well, as she once served as the elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner when I held the same post in Louisiana. She also was elected to two terms as Kansas Governor. I personally like Kathleen and we worked on a number of insurance problems together. But obviously, she is in over her head, and even key Democrats are speculating that she may have to resign. Too much talk and not enough implementation.
Republicans continue to minimize the importance of government, and have continued their role as obstructionists without offering any alternatives. In the opinion of the GOP leadership in Washington, the plan seems to be to continually holler “no, no, a thousand times no,” but present no reasonable options. If Obamacare is not the answer, what is the answer for the 40 million uninsured?
Republican governors have given lip service to alternative ideas, but again, a lot of talk with little or no action. Down here in Louisiana, current governor Bobby Jindal, who fancies himself as a future presidential contender, suggested other options to Obamacare that included pooling for small businesses, pay for performance, portability and refundable tax credits. All make sense, but Jindal has made no effort in the Louisiana legislature to implement these proposals into state law. He has missed a great opportunity to brag that, as governor, he put into place significant changes that should be adopted by congress.
So we have the Demo-don’ts and the Republi-cants. Two dysfunctional political parties that stay locked in their dogmatic postures, can’t implement, and fall short in offering the American people any responsible vision for the future. You have to wonder how this happened and who are the boneheads responsible for the drivel that flows relentlessly from both parties.
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel asked the same question on this week’s show when he jibed: “I want the names of the idiots who elected these people….Oh, wait. It was us? Never mind.” Kimmel summed it up well. But the cartoon character Pogo said it best. “We have found the enemy, and the enemy is us!”
Ask yourself this question as the 2014 congressional elections draw near. Is there a good reason to vote for any incumbent, Republican or Democrat? Public service has turned into self-service with knee jerk loyalty to one political party. Whatever happened to honest and open give and take for the greater good?
Party loyalty? To heck with it. You can put all the Washington incumbents in a sack, shake them up, and it wouldn’t make much difference whom you pulled out. When it comes to looking out for what’s best for the country and acting in in a non-partisan manner for the public good, neither party offers responsible choices.
We can do better. Much better. Don’t just vote, but vote smart. And if it takes a major housecleaning to clear out the dysfunction, and force a more responsive congress, then bring it on.