We Need Good Government

Brothers and Sisters,
This last week we saw some of the worst examples of how a government should operate. In fact the example we saw was so atrocious that even those responsible for the continued errors were horrified by what they were doing… yet they persisted.

We all talk about having good government, and we agree that our leaders should have a responsibility to good government. Though we may have different ideas about what government should do, there is little argument over the qualities good government should exhibit.

Few would argue against the idea that the best of governments should study the important issues to see if changes could be done then listen to testimony from the experts and stakeholders to see what changes should be done. This is followed by as much time is needed to craft a solid plan for how the changes are to be done.  This process can take years and it simply can’t be rushed.

The best elected officials know this. They know what good government is even if they disagree with the end result

Unfortunately, good government is not what has been on display in Congress over the last few months. In their desperation to abolish the American Care Act, the GOP-controlled legislature has grown increasingly anxious to get something—anything passed. They are desperate to show America that they can be winners, consequences be damned, and are growing increasingly frantic to prove that they can get things done!

In attempting to show themselves capable of action, they have thrown out the processes many consider to be essential to good government: long-range planning, thoughtful and complete debate, public transparency, listening to people in the field, gaining bipartisan support and most importantly, taking the time to use all of the above to craft sound legislation.

The principles they violated in the last few months, are not just the principles of good government, they are the foundation of good business, good science and good leadership.

We can all probably agree that healthcare in America could be improved, but instead of taking the time to fix the current system with a “Repair & Refine” approach, the Senate is engaged in a scorched-earth campaign of “Repeal and Replace” ignoring all the rules of good government and this is dangerous!

Their “No Democrats allowed!” policy has resulted in a highly partisan and divisive bill rather than the moderate and thoughtful legislation it could have been. As such, public support for this effort continues to sink lower and lower.

At the end of last week, this process had led to such a terrible bill that there were several senators who were actually begging the House to not pass the legislation the Senate was about to vote on.

Let this sink in a bit.  They were demanding that the House not pass the bill they themselves were about to pass.

How is any of this good government?

I need to be blunt. We don’t need a new healthcare bill nearly as much as we need good and thoughtful government. In fact, we don’t need anything as much as we need good government, because it is only through good government that we will get the rest.

Senator Hoeven told me multiple times that he did not support this bill as written. He also told me that he was against a straight repeal bill. He then voted for both of these bills as soon as the GOP leadership demanded it. He’s shown far more loyalty to out of state political interests than he has to everyday North Dakotans.

Senator John Hoeven, Representative Kevin Cramer and the rest of Congress need to understand that we will not stand for these examples of sloppy, shortsighted leadership. If congress wants to change healthcare coverage in America—or anything else—then it needs to be done the right way: with hearings, with debate and with input from all stakeholders. For instance, how do they expect to create workable healthcare legislation when they are ignoring the advice of every medical organization 

John Hoeven should be ashamed of himself for taking part in this fiasco, and he needs to hold an open town hall where he explains his inability to stand up for what is right. He represents us, and we deserve that.

Improving healthcare may take years, but as with any important endeavor, this is a small price to pay for a system that works.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
(701) 595-3334