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Tim Burke: Lack of progress in D.C. warrants attention

I am rapidly growing weary of the lack of progress being made in Washington by our elected officials to the House and the Senate.

There are real substantial issues that need to be addressed on behalf of the citizens of this country. Health-care reform, immigration, terrorism, tax reform, job creation, education, infrastructure, national security, veterans’ care, environmental regulations, and balancing the budget are just a few of the items that the politicians in Washington should be concentrating on.

But what do we get?

From the Democrats, we get obstruction of any program that the Republicans and the president put forth. We get this constant mantra of Russia, collusion, and impeachment. I can only fathom that they think if it is repeated constantly it will have some sort of hypnotic effect on the citizens, placing us into a trance where all common sense and logic is dispelled.

They have chosen to ignore the election results, the Constitution, and their duties to help govern the United States of America on behalf of the citizens. This almost maniacal focus on obstruction and criticizing the president has hurt the Democratic Party by further polarizing the party away from its historical core membership. The leadership within the party is almost comical in what they say publicly and how they are conducting themselves. Polls show that an overwhelming majority of the population agree it’s time to move on.

And the Republicans? By virtue of their elected majority, they control everything in Washington but they act like they control nothing. They haven’t been able to stay on task and take up the objectives outlined by President Donald Trump. Their initial attempt by the House on health-care reform was a political disaster. And now the Senate can’t seem to come with an alternative plan. There seems to be no real leadership within the party that can effectively create good legislation and build consensus so that it gets passed.

Why do all these elected officials seem to have forgotten what they were elected to do? What they were elected to do can be very simply stated; represent the people of the United States and take up meaningful legislation that will improve our quality of life, not only for ourselves but for our families today and in the future.

It seems like the farther one advances in politics the less in touch they become with what they are supposed to be doing and who they are doing it for. What happens that changes them into completely ineffective and empty talking heads?

I guess we first have to ask “what motivates someone to run for office?” You would assume (perhaps hope!) it’s because they want to participate in the process of governing on behalf of their local constituents. That they want to make a difference for the people in their community. And I think in most cases that is true.

There are exceptions; sometimes people run for office because of ego, they think they are smarter than everyone else and they are going to save us poor, misguided souls from ourselves. Sometimes people run for office because they want to further their long-term business interests. As an elected politician they can network with the “movers and shakers” setting themselves up for future business connections.

Our locally elected politicians actually have the most difficult jobs in governing. They are tasked with trying to keep a diverse group of constituents happy, manage often meager budgets, and still provide services to the residents. And do it with none of the fancy perks that politicians get when elected to state and federal offices.

But many of the areas that our local officials have to manage are state and federal-mandated programs. A friend of mine who is a county commissioner in another rural Nevada county once told me that when he was first elected he had a personal goal of trying to lower or eliminate at least one local tax or fee. He quickly found out that was going to be virtually impossible to do because the counties are handcuffed by the state and federal mandates and programs that the counties have to administer.

Local elected officials generally do their job without very little thanks. I learned serving as a chairperson of several different national events and committees that if you take a leadership position expecting that you will be patted on the back and that all your hard work will be appreciated, you were going to be very disappointed.

Perhaps the politicians in Washington need the pensions, the free health care, the expensive trips and dinners, the paid speaking engagements, and all the other lavish perks of being a career Washington politician taken away. They can work for virtually free like our local officials. Maybe then they will remember why they ran for office and who they work for.

Tim Burke is a businessman, philanthropist, educator and Pahrump resident. Contact him at timstakenv@gmail.com

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