“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.”
“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.” – Gov. Nikki Haley, Republican response to State of the Union Address
These were brave words that resulted in negative and condescending attacks from Haley’s own party. This illustrates that speaking the truth to those in power has unpleasant consequences.
Taking a middle of the road position in politics today, giving a mature, balanced and adult review of our present situation is not well accepted in certain quarters. But Gov. Haley raised an important issue: at what point does a politician take responsibility for his or her party’s conduct or candidates?
Conservatives are quick to suggest that the poor, minorities, the elderly or teenagers are fully responsible for their plight. If these unfortunates took responsibility and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, they might overcome the obstacles society puts in their way.
But teenagers aren’t the only ones who may not be taking responsibility. This Congress is one of the most unproductive in our Republic’s history and it has a current disapproval rating of 82 percent. Both houses of this Congress are controlled by the Republican party.
Makes you wonder what people are talking about when they are critical of “the government.” The House voted 50-plus times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. When it finally got the Senate to follow suit, the President vetoed the bill, just as everyone knew he would. This great waste of time, effort and money resulted in exactly what?
Speaking of responsibility, it was Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell who famously declared his number one goal was to make President Obama a “one-term president.” Why then does Senator McConnell not take public responsibility for all the accumulated efforts made to hobble the government?
Why, when the Ebola epidemic was spreading in Africa and reaching the United States, was there no Surgeon General? Why, in our war with ISIS, do we not have a Secretary of the Army? Over the last seven years, ambassadorial appointments for career Foreign Service Officers were and are still being held up for months, as are judicial nominations.
Who will accept responsibility for headless embassies and judgeless courtrooms? This makes America great?
Closer to home, we have our own Congressman David Brat. His response to Gov. Haley included this amazing statement: “President Obama should not cite the Bible because conservatives own the tradition of Christian love.” Brat was angry that the President cited Christian teachings when he criticized Republicans for their attempts to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
How has Congressman Brat fulfilled his responsibilities since he took his seat in November 2014? As a member of the House Freedom Caucus, he is a quite vocal critic of the more moderate members of his own party, the Democrats, the President and the Administration.
Brat voted against the bi-partisan budget bill sent to the President. He voted against dreamers being allowed to join the military. He’s voted against health care for poor Americans. He’s voted against sensible gun legislation like expanded background checks, and banning assault weapons. He voted against the new Speaker of the House. He’s voted against practically everything. He’s sponsored only 11 bills in his time in the House. Only one has become law: renaming an arboretum in Richmond.
Where are Mr. Brat’s bills to create jobs, provide adequate funding for education and veterans, cut wasteful military spending, increase spending for repair and maintenance of our crumbling infrastructure, support measures that would actually improve our health care system and overhaul our tax code?
Aren’t these areas part of his responsibilities? Don’t just take it from me, check out Mr. Brat’s record at his website brat.house.gov/legislation or opencongress.org . Brat is great at offering very partisan commentary on national TV but his actual work demonstrates a meager understanding of his responsibilities to his district and the country.
Perhaps this is the most important question: When will voters start taking responsibility for their elected representatives?
NOTE: reprinted with authors permission and the original version can be found here .