Compromise: First of all, thank you to all those who live in the new 45th Congressional District in California for your strong support of my reelection. It looks like I will have won by a margin of 18 points in spite of a new district (50% of which I have never represented), a poor year for Republicans and another opponent who spent many times more money than I did and spent it largely on negative advertising. I appreciate your confidence in me. I will not let you down.
But, I must confess, it didn’t feel much like a winning night. Frankly, I haven’t been this saddened in a very long time. Yes, I won convincingly, but politics is a team sport. I need friends and allies to get stuff done, and a lot of them lost.
I will let others do the political analysis of why the election turned out as it did. But, I will tell you that my sadness is much deeper than it was four years ago. In 2008, we were pretty sure that McCain was going to lose, and we had some hopefulness that Obama wouldn’t turn out to be as bad a president as we feared. But in 2012, we were pretty sure that Romney/Ryan were going to win, and we are pretty sure that Obama, if reelected, would get even worse, if that is possible. So in 2012, the stakes were higher and the opportunity greater. That makes the loss all the harder to bear. Mitt Romney is a wonderful man with a wonderful family and he would have made a great president. But, it is not to be so. Add to that the fact that my home state of California slipped dramatically deeper into a political abyss from which I fear it may not recover without an intervening crisis.
It’s a week since the Election, and I write you this on a nighttime flight back to Washington. I can’t seem to shake the sorrow that I feel. It’s not just that we lost an election. That happens a lot. It seems that we are losing something much deeper…something more fundamental – Freedom. The agenda of the left in this country, embodied by the newly reelected president, is increasingly to sacrifice freedom for dependency, opportunity for equality and growth for a misguided idea of fairness. As Winston Churchill said, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings. The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of its misery.” The state of my birth seems to be following a well-known and well-traveled path to failure, which I fear is irreversible in the near term. It has always been said that California leads the nation in many trends. I fall to my knees to pray that this axiom is not true in this instance.
When I was in college, I read Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, which was given to me by my mother. The message of that book has shaped my philosophy ever since. I give a copy of it to everyone who interns in my office either in Washington or Irvine along with the following inscription that I write:
“This book is the penultimate work on the power and dignity of the individual over the power of the state or collective. It is not an easy read, but worth it.”
A quote from that book is apropos right now:
“When you see that trading is done, not by consent but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them but protect them against you – when you see compulsion being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.”
Atlas Shrugged was first published 55 years ago. The words read as though they were written 55 hours ago. The policies of Harry Reid and Barack Obama fit neatly into that description of a then future society. But, we are not doomed. However, Tuesday was a move in that direction.
And, I’ll be damned if this member of Congress is going to be a participant in that motion. I am not going to go along with a slow move towards socialism rather than a fast one. This game is not over!
The House of Representatives is a coequal branch of government with the executive. We are Article I of the Constitution, the president is in Article II. He won, but so did we retain the majority in the House. History said that we should have lost after having just won 63 seats the election before. But we didn’t.
With Republicans firmly in control of the House and Democrats firmly in control of the Senate and the White House, it is clear to all eyes that compromise must be reached for anything to be accomplished. But, let’s examine what compromise really is.
The president wants to raise taxes on everyone making over $250,000 per year. We don’t want to raise taxes on anyone. Raising taxes on people making over $250,000 a year is NOT compromise at all. That is his starting point. But, he says it is “non-negotiable”.
Ok, Mr. President. Let’s look at another issue – Obamacare. You want to keep it in place. We want to completely repeal it. A compromise would be to repeal part of it. Leaving it alone is NOT compromise.
Now, real compromise would be, for example, to raise taxes on people making over $250,000 per year AND repeal Obamacare completely. That is compromise because the president gets his way in one area and House Republicans get ours in another.
It is NOT compromise to keep the status quo on American energy development. It WOULD be compromise to stop subsidizing inefficient wind and solar projects OR start developing our domestic oil resources in Alaska and other places OR removing the barriers to coal use. But, stopping all of that is the president’s position and is NOT compromise. Doing the Paul Ryan Medicare reform is not compromise, but neither is leaving the unsustainable Medicare program alone. Making some reform short of the Ryan plan is compromise.
I could go on, but you get the point. There are actually many areas to compromise on in order to move the country ahead a little without another lurch towards socialism. But, this president’s track record on compromise is not good. Every “accomplishment” of his administration occurred when Democrats had supermajorities in both the House and the Senate. Since he lost the 60 votes in the Senate, he has not worked with or compromised with us on anything. In the 44 years since 1968, the presidency has been held by a member of a different party than at least one of the houses of Congress for 30 of those years. Stuff got done during those 30 years because Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes worked with the other side. Will this president extend an olive branch or will he spend the next 2 years doing nothing and trying to blame Republicans for everything he can? His history would suggest the latter.
I was wrong about who would win the election. I pray I am wrong about this. If I am, I will be the first to admit it…..and to celebrate it.
I am disheartened and mournful and melancholy. But, I will not yield and I will not give up. And, neither should you.
Drive fast and live free!