Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

October 17, 2013

MARK HEINIG: Our man for all seasons

In a sense, he was congressman to all

(Continued)

That job is not the short-sighted and self-centered quest for partisan political advantage. Rounding up votes for re-election and blaming the other side for the mess both sides created together is useless. Regrettably, that mess is the only thing they have created together since the last election. My grandfather, who spent most of his working life in the cab of a locomotive, would probably have said, “This ain’t no way to run a railroad!” (It’s no way to run anything, Gramps!)

Neither a railroad nor Congress nor any other organization can work as it should unless its key personnel cooperate. Many congressmen are reluctant to cooperate because it almost always involves negotiation and compromise. The belligerence of their more extreme colleagues may intimidate them, but it shouldn’t.

The purpose of our representative government is to express the will of the people. Virtually all Americans understand some problems demand solutions, even if certain members of Congress dislike those solutions. Who cares what they like? It’s supposed to be about us, not them. Inaction is no solution, and demanding all or nothing usually gets you nothing!

We have been getting nothing for much too long, and the approval ratings of the president and Congress show it. I voted for Barack Obama twice, but I’m not sure I would do it again if he were eligible for a third term. In principle, I support the Affordable Care Act, but not necessarily in its present form. I believe government participation in national health insurance is inevitable. The exact kind of participation and how much of it we need are open for discussion. So are spending cuts and implementing our federal budget with borrowed bucks.

How can our elected leaders discuss anything without talking to each other? Whether the president wants to compromise on health care and the budget, he is our chief executive, the leader of our federal government. He should always be willing to interact with his opponents as well as his defenders.

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