The Survivor Challenge?

Since I’m elected to serve locally here in SC, I generally make it a practice to limit my discussions on Nathan’sNews to state matters and not national level politics. With the recent events in Washington surrounding the “Health Care Reform” though, I felt the need to write tonight.

First, let me ask this: Who in the country can be against “Health Care Reform”? With almost every bill ever passed (or debated) the title usually is vague enough to make it “feel good” to the general public. But like almost every bill ever passed (or debated), it’s the details that really matter. Not the catchy title.

Like most of the elected officials in Washington, I haven’t read the bill. Of course, like you, I don’t get a vote so I’m relying on members in Washington to do “what’s best” for our country and our citizens. We can debate all night “what’s best” but I can tell you that if more than half our country is apparently against it, there’s got to be a problem. Either the bill just isn’t “good for our country” or officials haven’t been able to give a good explanation of WHY we need this legislation and why we should support the passage of such a historic piece of legislation.

As we all have heard growing up – “nothing good happens after midnight;” and with a vote taken at 1:00 a.m. Monday morning , it gives additional meaning to that phrase.

Again, I don’t want to debate the BILL itself; there really are no fence-sitters at this point. You either think it’s the best thing since sliced bread or you are more outraged than ever about what and how Washington is going about their business.

I want to talk about the PROCESS of how a bill becomes law. I’m guessing most of you have heard the saying that “making laws is similar to making sausage. You really don’t want to see what’s going on; you just want to see the final product.” I’m actually glad though the American people are getting a chance to see what’s going on with the stakes so high.

For those in complete shock and dismay about the Senator from Nebraska who “sold out” to become the vital 60th vote the Democrats need to keep Republicans from “derailing” passage, don’t be shocked. This isn’t the first time it’s ever happened in politics. It’s EXACTLY this kind of “horse trading” that goes on almost daily in city halls across America,our state capitals and obviously Washington, D.C.

For those shocked by that comment, this next one could shock you even more. Oftentimes, the merits of the bill do not determine how an elected official votes. While there are several folks who are altruistic with every single vote they make, there are several folks who believe you either “vote early” (to remove some of the pressure from those for/against the bill) or you “hold out” to see “how important” that vote can be. In other words, what is someone willing to give to get that vote?

Voting early usually does remove some pressure. You’re on-record by stating how you plan to vote and the public/other officials know you’re not going to change your mind. Calls/emails/visits/letters really won’t make much difference and folks will tend to “let it go” but could remember come election time. Voting late means your vote is suddenly “in play” should the final outcome have such a slim margin that every single vote for a successful outcome is important to each side.

That is EXACTLY what’s happened recently in the stories you hear from Washington with some major legislation impacting our country. Well, I shouldn’t say EXACTLY because I don’t know those officials personally and don’t know if they were really waiting to weigh all options or not. I can say this though, it certainly APPEARS that they held out to make their vote be “in play” and “get something” for their vote (themselves or their constituents).

Louisiana? Nebraska? Those Senators played the game like it was some sort of reality show. Some Survivor challenge. Outwit, Outlast, Outplay. That’s the motto on the show and that’s what those officials and others are doing more times than we care to know.

While these officials may come out ahead in the short-term (pork for their constituents/plum committee assignments,etc), will these politicians be voted out when the next election comes around? Can they survive such blatant quid-pro-quo voting?