Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Four years and no progress


Last week I chastised folks who don’t vote, and since this is an election year I can’t seem to resist the urge to talk politics.  So if you got something else to do, go for it, ’cause here goes.

Two hours ago I got off a plane from D.C., and after spending three days discussing health insurance with my peers I’ve once again had to conclude that it really is amazing that America has made it this far.

My job requires that I fully engage in a special interest group called health insurers, and we had a big meeting trying to figure out the future of the health insurance industry… and like every other special interest group (energy, defense contractors, the Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party, farmers, hospitals, doctors, nurses, researchers, educators, financiers, environmentalists, post office, law enforcement, on and on and on) we concluded that absolutely nothing will happen in this country until after “we the people” decide who we want to run the place.

I’m of the opinion that there really is way too much partisanship. Indeed we’ve watched four years of stultifying political gridlock. Political gridlock occurs when one side truly believes that they can’t let the other side win. The only success story of this Congress comes from the Republicans in Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate, along with the Republican majority in the House, told us shortly after Obama was elected that their goal was to make sure that Obama was not reelected.

Senator McConnell and his crew have been very successful in blocking every attempt at any sense of progress and this recent Congress has done nothing but kick the can down the road past the election.

I don’t know if you pay attention to such things as the fiscal cliff, but these guys better get their act together or the draconian cuts they set themselves up for will really come around to haunt us for a long time to come.

Let’s get real, millionaires have plenty of money and they should contribute more, but that will only solve a small part of the problem.  The military is doing fine, but the problem in cutting the military has more to do with jobs back home than a need for more weapons (not that I want to denigrate the USS North Dakota, but the billions of dollars it costs to make this nuclear submarine maintains thousands of good paying jobs back in their districts). When thinking of all the money this country has spent on defense (war) in the last 60 years, I always have to go back to the best Republican General and President in my lifetime… President Eisenhower. As he left office he warned us to beware of the military industrial complex as it would consume us… and it has.

Now shift over to financial management, banks, stock market, and how we had to bail them out with over a trillion dollars or face a decade long worldwide depression. At the time this occurred (2008) Representative Pomeroy told me he was staring into an abyss and given the choice of a serious three- to five-year recession or a 10-year depression. Thanks to the money changers our economy was totally hollowed out. The choice was watch the economy collapse into a bottomless abyss or try to raise the bottom of the abyss. He made the right choice.  He also spent 28 years of his political career trying to resolve our health care crisis… and when he asked me what he should do with the Affordable Care Act I told him he needed to do what he thought was right, and he did just that fully knowing that it would probably cost him his seat in Congress… but I think he did the right thing. Then in 2010 the vociferous TEA Party types ran the moderates out of office… and thanks to their incorrigible politics driven by a deep desire to defeat Obama, this Congress should be ashamed to take a paycheck because they’ve prided themselves in their accomplishment of gridlocking and polarizing our entire country… whilst Rome burned Nero fiddled?

All we can do now is hope that our vote will put less partisan people in office who are more serious about solving these huge issues this lackluster Congress has created. We need folks who are more interested in doing their job than enhancing their power. That means we need to elect folks willing to understand that the only way government of the people works is if our representatives are willing to listen to all sides of every issue before being led like partisan lemmings to the sea.

Thus even though I consider myself  a D, I have always voted for the candidate over the party, and this time I’m looking at candidates who are more interested in solving our problems than preserving their party’s  position.

Let’s hope your vote leaves this place better off than you found it…