A Challenge to President Obama and the 114th United States Congress

Dear Elected Officials,

Election Day has come and gone, and regardless of the outcome, we exercised our right to vote. We took the time to express our opinion on the course of the country and hire those who we believe will lead us in the direction we want to go.

Well, to be fair, one-third of the eligible voters in the country did. Yes, it troubles me that so many in this country feel so disenfranchised, but this year’s numbers follow the trend of previous midterm election participation, so that’s not my focus.

I’m a political moderate who usually votes slightly left of center. I have voted in every Presidential election during which I have been eligible. I have participated in midterms when I wasn’t moving between states with the Navy. Most importantly, in my opinion, I have never voted a straight-party ticket.

That same mentality applied to the 111th Congress: I value honest and sincere discussion and debate between ideologies, and that was lacking with one party running two branches of government. Quite honestly, it had been lacking since the 2000 Presidential elections established a single-party supermajority for six years. I realize that they have been happening for a long time, but that was before the time that I could (or, frankly, was intelligent enough to) vote.

That said, since the 2010 midterms, I have been dismayed and frustrated by the state of our government. I’ve never been a fan of the TEA Party because I feel that their methods, in general, are too extreme. I believe that the polarizing attitude brought to bear on both sides since the 112th Congress was sworn in has done more harm than good.

Time and time again since the Republicans took control of the House in 2011, we’ve seen last minute deals to avoid fiscal emergencies, blocking of presidential nominations, and even a sixteen day shutdown of the government. We’ve also seen at least 33 attempts to repeal Obamacare, each of which has failed.

Ladies and gentlemen, I truly understand the public face of your discontent. I also have my reservations about how things have been done under this administration, but I also strongly feel that secret meetings to sabotage a presidency before it even begins betray the trust that the American people put in our legislators.

Since (at least) the 2008 Presidential elections, the polarizing attitude has been growing, and it spiked in the 2010 midterms. In the public sphere, there no longer appears to be room for ideological debate, as the people of this country have adopted the words of President George W. Bush in 2001 – “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” – as political gospel. There is no middle ground, and no room for compromise.

As a veteran, the son of a veteran, and the most recent in a long family tradition of proud American veterans, I’ve almost lost faith in the dream. I don’t believe that the leaders of the people, a talented group of men and women who were hired by the people to work for the people, have the interests of the people at heart. This doesn’t feel like the country I agreed to fight for and die for, and no single person – Democrat, Republican, or Independent – has failed that ideal.

Instead, all of them have.

Enough is enough.

As I see it, the 114th Congress has the potential to get a lot of work done. Holding the majority in the House and Senate allows the Republican Party to make great strides for important conservative measures, and having a Democrat in the Oval Office means that to pass those bills into law, you need to successfully sell them to the Democrats.

To that end, the President is the current face of the Democratic Party, and he needs to work with the Republicans to get the wheels turning. Additionally, we were promised the most transparent administration ever, so let’s do that. If something doesn’t pass muster, we the people deserve to know why exactly it doesn’t work, and what steps are being taken to find a mutually acceptable solution.

The legislative majority does not have the power to override a Presidential veto. Similarly, unless the Senate breaks out the infamous “Nuclear Option” – an act which I believe would highlight an inability to lead and work together – the majority faces the threat of filibuster and further gridlock. Work can get done, but it can’t be “my way or the highway.” The American people need you to be the leaders you promised us you could be.

Compromise is not a dirty word. Anywhere else than Washington, it is a well-developed method to achieve progress. As it stands, the United States needs to improve our poorly-aged transit and energy infrastructures, needs to find solutions to the rising incidents of gun violence, and needs to meaningfully address immigration, tax, and election reform. I also believe that we should be seriously investigating climate change.

In my opinion, job one on day one also needs to be the Federal budget. It’s been a major sticking point over the last six years, and now is the time to put your money where your mouth is. Prove to us that it can be done.

We’re asking you to do the jobs you were hired to do. I know that there is great potential in this Congress to show us that you work for the people. Not for interests and not for parties, but for the men and women who live, work, play, and die for the dream of the men who founded this nation.

No more symbolic gestures. No more votes in futility. No more partisan games. No more spin.

Help me to believe again. Help America to believe again.

Now, get to work.

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