March 22, 2019

Substance Over Form—‘What’ Over ‘How’

Republicans-vs-DemocratsLet’s think about this. I go to buy a car for my wife. I walk onto the lot and pick one that is worth $20k, but is listed for $25k. I tell the salesman that I will pay only $10k. We negotiate and I end up giving in and paying $20k. I come in a few months later to buy a car for my son. He wants the same car that my wife has and the price is still $25k. Knowing that I paid $20k last time, I tell the salesman that I am willing to pay $20k again. But this time he says no, he’s standing firm. We negotiate and I end up paying $22k. Now my daughter wants a car and I go back in for the third time, same make and model. Knowing what I paid last time, I decide to offer $22k, not a penny more. But, as before, the salesman demands $25k. We split the difference and I pay $23.5k.

So here’s the question. Who is the strongest negotiator? The salesman who starts every negation with everything he wants and settles for less and less of a discount with each transaction or, me who begins each negotiation with what I settled for last time, instead of starting each negation episode with everything I want, the car for $10k and settle for paying $20k?

elephant-vs-donkeyAs simplistic as this might be, this is exactly what has been happening for years in Washington DC. The Democrats come to DC demanding everything they want. The Republicans’ point of departure for renewed (or continued) negotiation is to ask for no more than what they got last time, forgetting what their voters originally wanted.

I heard a sour grapes interview with former senator Bob Bennett recently. He was criticizing his replacement, Mike Lee and others, for “hostage taking.” He explained that in ‘his day’ people went to Washington to “look for ways to get something done.” That’s right Bob, but what we wanted was for you to remember WHAT we, the voters, want done. You didn’t do that. The American people are tired of sending politicians to Washington who say WHAT they will do while campaigning and later return to us with some version of, “it’s harder than I thought it was going to be.” From that point forward it seems that their main focus becomes HOW to get things done. Understandable, but wrong. While we certainly want our elected officials to be effective in their efforts, the “how” does not equal the “what.” It’s discouraging to see old guard Republicans trash the freshman class of Senators (i.e. Lee, Cruz, Rand, etc.) because of their “how,” disregarding their “what.”

To the Republican Establishment: THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS DO NOT WANT OBAMACARE! It will destroy the country. We want you to do whatever it takes, within the law, to get rid of it. Stop talking about the good old days of statesmanship, compromise and good will among your colleagues within the Halls of Congress. The opposition has already declared war on us. Stop acting as if their positions are reasonable, just different than ours. They’re not. If Obamacare stands the economy will be irretrievably damaged—decimated. Don’t tell us that risking the “full-faith and credit” of the United States is too high a price. The implementation of Obamacare will do that anyway. We want our representatives to STOP Obamacare, not just slow its implementation.

One more point. Whenever I talk with republican operatives, it sickens me to hear them talk about Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and others as party interlopers or as individuals who didn’t “come up through the ranks the right way.” One such republican operative recently told me that Mike Lee took advantage of a flawed caucus system in Utah and was therefore able to unseat Bob Bennett. Her criticism of Lee centered on the idea that he has not spent the time building enough trust within the party to be effective. She further pointed out that what the party needs is someone who has a demonstrated ability to “build coalitions” that will facilitate “getting things done.”

My response: by staying focused on WHAT his constituents want instead of getting hoodwinked by the opposition into believing that “HOW we do things in the Senate” should be the focus, he is building a broad-base coalition on a foundation of trust among the VOTERS. Others within the party would do well to stop criticizing him, stop helping the opposition party, and stand with him as he endeavors to represent the people who sent him to Washington to get rid of Obamacare and otherwise return the nation to a Constitution based government.

Forget the “how” and stay focused on the “what.” The “how” will become self-evident as we go along. The only thing required then is to have the courage to exercise the “how” in pursuit of the “what.”

Mike Lee has my support and my respect.

by John Bingham

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