The Union Recorder

Columns

October 5, 2013

ROWLAND: A letter to Washington politicians

MILLEDGEVILLE — Dear Washington Politician:

I have been watching with interest the shenanigans of the past week in our nation’s capitol leading up to what is being referred to as a partial government shutdown. Truth be known, I have been listening to the debate over Obamacare, budget deficits, the debt ceiling and partisan politics for longer than I care to admit.

At this point, I am not particularly interested in your party affiliation. Tea Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party — none of you represent, in total, who I am or what I stand for. To put it bluntly, I have had just about enough of you acting as if you, and only you, know what is best for me.

When I voted for you, I understood the issues that divide us, but I voted for you because I thought you had the good sense to rule our nation in a manner that is in the best interest of ALL Americans. I expect the other side to have its day; they should expect me to win on a few things, too.

But, in the end, we should all expect to meet in the place where most of life’s answers can be found somewhere in the middle.

So, pay attention while I tell you who I am and what I expect of you as my representative.

I am a southern, fiscal conservative from the Bible Belt. My parents grew up poor, both of them raised by single moms with multiple siblings. I have Christian values, and I am not under the illusion that my values are the only values.

They are just mine.

My mother was number one in her class; my dad enlisted in the Navy without a high school diploma. Both of them left their modest upbringing for the fruits provided by hard work, perseverance and commitment.

My sister and I did not grow up privileged, but we had more than we needed. We learned from our parents that what we were to become in life was largely up to us. We watched their example, became first generation college graduates, raised fine families, and made good livings for ourselves.

We’ve paid our bills, met our obligations, never defaulted on a loan, had money in the bank, and been one bad medical bill away from wondering how we would feed our children. We’ve never accepted a handout, but we understand the reasons that some people do.

It wasn’t easy, and we worked hard. There were disappointments along the way, but it never occurred to us that anyone else was responsible for what we would become but us. With any luck, we taught our children the same values.

Don’t let my fiscal conservatism mislead you. I am keenly aware that not everyone in this country can look after himself or herself. To that end, I believe those of us who have means should feel a responsibility to assist those who cannot help themselves.

We can debate how that should be done, but in the end, it should be done. As a nation, we tax ourselves so that programs that support this value can be funded. All I ask of you is that you use some of the money you take from me and ensure that entitlement programs are run responsibly.

By the way, you take a lot of my money.

I place my hand over my heart when the national anthem is played. I stopped my children from running through the house and made them do the same. I get chills when Timothy Miller sings “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch of a Braves game. I fly the American flag over my home, and I gladly pledge my allegiance to the same.

So here’s what I want you boys and girls to do. I don’t want to hear anymore of this talk about non-negotiables. Everything is negotiable.

I expect the House of Representatives to pass a version of a spending plan; I expect the Senate to do the same. Furthermore, I expect them to be different, if not opposite.

Then I expect a conference committee to be convened so that everything can be negotiated. And I mean everything. I expect you to go to work at 8 in the morning and do not leave the Capitol until an agreement is reached.

I expect you all to make list of everything to which both parties agree, and cross that off your list. Low hanging fruit first. Make a list of swords upon which you are willing to die until you reach an even number. Then each side wins one, and each side loses one. Simple.

I expect Obamacare to be the law of the land, but I expect leniency in its implementation. The People’s House has concerns, and I expect the statesmen of this country to address those concerns.

I expect the government to operate. I pay too dang much money for it not to, and I never expect to have it shut down again. This is no place from which the most powerful nation on the planet should lead.

I expect government to live within its means, and I expect everyone to play by the rules. When we take on new programs, we shed old, less efficient programs to pay for it. After all, the money is finite. That’s how we operate at my house.

Finally, let me be clear. During the next election cycle, it is my intention to vote for your replacement. You may be the one person in Congress doing a good job, but you have lost my confidence. I am so dissatisfied with your performance that I am willing to give anyone — and I do mean anyone — else a try.

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