Rep. Tipton on track to continue partisan business as usual

A well-read, well-educated friend, lamenting the state of politics in the United States, said recently that he’s fed up. He has no faith in the ability of our elected representatives to solve any of the country’s big issues. The Golden Age of America, as far as he’s concerned, is behind us. No longer will the U.S. of A. be that bright city on the hill, the country that leads the world in the production of ideas that make the world a better place for everyone. No longer will it be where everyone wants to come to. No, in its place will be a second-rate country that can’t keep its own house in order.

My friend will be content to let the world pass by. Whatever happens, happens. I doubt that he’ll actually do that. But his frustration is by no means any longer confined to a few gadflies and malcontents. It’s widespread and it’s understandable.

The Tea Party Revolution of 2010 isn’t going to change anything other than which ideologues are going to win and which are going to lose. It’s still not acceptable to disagree without being disagreeable. It’s still not acceptable to put even one foot over the line that divides the two parties.

Congressman Scott Tipton’s predecessor was often characterized as not much more than a water boy for Nancy Pelosi. To a great extent he probably earned that reputation. He was a party-line Democrat and only stepped out of the left-wing box when it was politically necessary to keep his seat. Some of us hoped Tipton might not be a right-wing version of John Salazar.

But if his first few weeks are any indication of what kind of representation we’re going to get in the Third District, it’s going to be business as usual, just from the right side instead of the left.

Tipton joined his fellow Republicans in the House right after being sworn in this month and spent the first couple of weeks of his term working to pass a repeal of the new health care act. He and his colleagues in the House knew before they began their quixotic quest to repeal Obamacare that their efforts were doomed. What’s more they offered nothing that would move the country forward. Their position was simple — sophomoric, really — and pointless.

Nonetheless, Tipton, and I’m sure plenty of other GOP House members, ballyhooed their vote to repeal. It was the subject of press releases and teleconferences. They’d campaigned on changing Washington (Who doesn’t?) and the vote to repeal was proof positive they meant business. They may have said they meant business but what they meant was business as usual.

Once again, just hours after the new Congress had taken office, we were subjected to the spectacle of grandstanding congressmen, with much seriousness going about the business of doing something that had zero meaning. It was a waste of time and effort, at a time when we can afford neither.

Of course there is real, meaningful work to be done on the health care bill. Even Obama has said there are parts of it that should be changed, that it’s not perfect. We’d like to think new congressmen would take their jobs seriously enough to dig deep into the issue, to find just where it needs to be fixed and offer substantive alternatives. Of course that doesn’t play well with the ideological bases — either on the left or the right.

Scott Tipton is a bright, likable guy. He really believes the solutions to the country’s problems are to be found in the private sector. He has defensible positions. The big challenge for him, and everyone else in Congress, is do you have the intestinal fortitude it will take to do anything other than spout, and vote, the party line?

I’m sorry to say the first few weeks of his term lead me to believe he might not. Instead we were given nothing but more evidence that makes my friend want to say the heck with it.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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