Even a casual observer can notice that something is deeply wrong in Congress. For eight years conservatives trudged through vetoes and blocks by President Obama and his administration. Then things changed. Big time. Republicans won the House, the Senate and the Presidency, a miracle so unbelievable that the opposition is still trying to figure out “what happened.”
This was our moment. We were going to take the hill…literally. But while Hillary is still wondering “what happened” to her campaign failure, conservatives are also asking “what happened” to our campaign victory. We wonder why we can’t get health care done, and why tax policy is such a struggle. Why everything is such a struggle.
First, many of us assumed that an R by a person’s name meant “conservative.” That assumption has proven to be wrong. The big reveal this year has been the fault lines within the GOP, not the “deep divisions” of red versus blue. On the republican side of the aisle, we have a blend of types spanning from the principled conservatives, to the establishment types to the libertarian-leaning types.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats vote as a block, and as a team, mainly because they tend to be less ideologically grounded and more focused on the end-game: winning.
We could learn something from this method, where winning is the goal. Conservatives vote for their principles while establishment types cling to their power. This fault line within the GOP has proven to be the greatest barrier to winning. So how do we win when a minority establishment group, continue to block the good things the rest of Congress supports? Is it too much to ask that all Republicans be conservative, or at least try to work together?
To begin our audit, we need to evaluate the team as a whole. Evoking a sports analogy, we have some players on our team who refuse to catch a pass. We throw the ball and they stand around with their hands in their pockets. Or they dodge the ball. In a real football game, the coach would pull them off the field and put them on the bench. We can’t win the game with players who refuse to play…or even worse, play so that the other team wins. Rather than snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, these players manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We have some really great players, and a president who will support them, but a handful of do-nothings continue to sabotage our ability to win.
Another issue within Congress is the incentive structure. Regular business incentivizes people to take risks so that they can make a profit. In business the goal is the end game: selling your product. The congressional system motivates elected officials to play it safe. One wrong move and the media slam you with labels, followed by your election loss. One high risk move can mean “out of a job” to a politician. Thus, the system motivates some members of Congress to do just enough to tell the constituents they did something, but not enough to really make any major changes. To return to the football analogy, success for some members of Congress means returning home with a clean uniform. “Look” they brag, “I didn’t even get a scratch!” This is unacceptable. We sent them there to play the game, not to come home with a clean uniform.
In real life, we have no problem letting hotel managers know when the service they promised and failed to deliver was unacceptable. And we don’t wait two years to say something, hoping that the management will change.
We should have the same resolve to change unacceptable service from Congress. If this is a government by the people and for the people, then the people need to say something. Remember the old saying about crime? See something, say something. This should be the same way we deal with Congress. If we see something…something that inadequately represents our interests, then we should say something. The trick is that we need to be watching what is going on in order to “see something” so that we can “say something.”
The final issue with Congress is how they are shielded from the laws they make. Case in point, Obamacare. If members of Congress actually saw their healthcare options change from a reasonable price with reasonable care to ridiculously expensive and covering nothing, then maybe they would be more motivated to pass something.
In the end, “we the people” can pull the people off the field who just stand around and deliberately miss a pass. It’s called elections. And in the meantime, we need to call their office and let them know when we see a poor performance, and encourage them when they do something right.
To find the contact information of your elected officials, click here.
Image credit: sborisov/BigStock
Originally published on Patriot Post, October 5, 2017
In addition to “Fossil Fuel Divestment” and other protests prevalent on college campuses, comes yet another misguided movement. The Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement (BDS) seeks to delegitimize Israel’s existence and calls for economic, academic, political and cultural punishment of the country based upon a false narrative of human rights abuses.
The BDS movement relies on several incorrect statements. First, they claim that “Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land.” Here are the facts. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Romans gave the name “Palestine” to the region inhabited by Jewish people in the second century A.D. In 1922, the League of Nations agreed upon the Palestine Mandate in recognition of “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” In fact, the Jerusalem Post began as the Palestine Post, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra began as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. After Israel’s independence in 1948, Arabs living in the Gaza Strip or West Bank began referring to themselves as “Palestinian.”
A Jewish presence has existed in the land of Israel for over 3,000 years despite wars and attempts to scatter the Jewish people to other places. During the late 19th and 20th century, Jews sought to return to Israel legally, purchase the land and restore it through their own efforts. At the time, the land which later became Israel, languished as swamp land and sand dunes. Yet, the returning Zionists purchased the land anyway and planted eucalyptus trees which drained the muddy waters, reduced mosquitos and combatted malaria. Note that these Zionists purchased the land with their own funds and restored the land with their own efforts. They have also fought and won several wars defending their land and sovereignty.
The BDS movement also claims that Israel is “discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel” and that the BDS movement is “inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement.” This statement misunderstands South Africa’s apartheid conflict which legally separated blacks and whites, placing whites in authority over the minority black population. It also forced political, social and economic segregation which prevented black people from voting, participating in government activities, and socializing with whites.
In contrast, Israel’s legal system gives equal rights and equal protection to all of its citizens. In reality, Israel gives full legal rights, liberties and protections to all of its citizens, whether Arab (i.e. Palestinian) or Jew. Mitchell G. Bard, author of Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict notes, “Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote.” In addition, Israel’s two official languages are Hebrew and Arabic and Israel has several Arab political parties.
Further, Israel has never formally annexed the West Bank or Gaza and many of the Palestinians who live there are not Israeli citizens, but rather are subject to their own terrorist governing bodies (Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian Authority in the West Bank).
In terms of international law and human rights violations, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza strip, have routinely launched rockets from schools, mosques and other civilian centers. Hamas terrorists hide in civilian crowds endangering both Palestinians and Israelis. Deliberately endangering civilians is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (article 28), and their actions, noted in a 2015 Amnesty International report, have repeatedly qualified as war crimes according to international law.
Using rhetoric of “social justice” and “human rights abuses,” BDS convinces misguided and misinformed students, business leaders, academicians and others to support their cause. Conveniently ignoring the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to the land, their legal system which promotes basic human rights, and the war crimes committed by Palestinian terrorists such as Hamas, BDS hopes to demonize, delegitimize and inflict double standards on the state of Israel while failing to provide realistic or sustainable solutions to the conflict.
Image credit: rrodrickbeiler/BigStock
Originally published on Patriot Post, September 28, 2017