I know “America first” sounds like an easy concept, but quite frankly, nothing is easy here in Washington, DC. For 20 years, I have been an advocate (lobbyist) for people’s interests. Before that I had worked on various campaigns and even spent some time with a U.S. Senator, which gave me a great understanding of what politics should be about. The Senator that I worked for had strong ethics and believed in putting his constituents, his state, and his country first and oftentimes was at odds with his own party. I respect that, because what most politicians have now forgotten is that we don’t live in a red (Republican) or blue (Democrat) country, we live in a red, white AND blue one and every decision they make should be based on how it affects America, not their party, first. Unfortunately, that is not the case and the average American pays the ultimate price for their decisions.
Now as I say this, I believe in the individual Members of Congress and think that they come here with the best intentions: to be public servants and to truly want to make a difference. It sounds cliché, but it is not. It is why most of us in the political game migrate to DC—it’s why I did. The problem is not the individual Members but the party structure and the power that those parties wield. In 20 years, I have seen great Members of Congress “whipped” by their party leaders into voting the party line on bad bills, which might be diametrically opposed to their personal opinion on an issue. They are forced to vote a certain way or else they are threatened with losing their standing or committee seats. While it may seem simple to a layperson, the average American does not understand that, for example, a senior Representative sitting on the Transportation Committee means better roads for that legislator’s constituents. If he/she lost that seat, the constituents would pay the price by losing their new road projects. So the legislator votes the party line and gives a small piece of their soul away.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time and the parties are strictly to blame for these strong arm techniques. America has the best political system in the world. At times it may not feel like it, but it is true. Over the next few weeks this continuing article will look at what changes could be made to once again make America the beacon of hope we once were, instead of the punch line of a joke our system has become. I look forward to your comments, constructive dialogue, and ideas on how we can turn this around and finally put America First in politicians’ minds.