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Who can we trust to run our government?
Clearly, not our current members of Congress. Like many Americans, I am disgusted by partisan bickering. So last week I wrote this Facebook posting and this tweet:
The response was immediate.
Carl DeMaio called. On my cell phone. Worried.
Then a representative of Scott Peters called. On my office phone. Worried.
Then left-wing trolls attacked me on Twitter (see here and here) with the same kind of partisan derision that motivated me to leave the Democratic Party earlier this year.
So why would a little tweet cause such a ruckus?
The race in my district, the 52nd, represents the battle for the 51 percent of Americans who are moderate. Based on this survey, I’m squarely in the middle of the political spectrum as an “MBA Middle.” I am happy to live and let live. And I don’t want to hear politicians talk about God, guns and gays. Nor do I want to hear excuses about the incompetence of the Obamacare rollout.
The government prompted me to question my endorsement of DeMaio. Why? He’s a Republican. And I fear the tea party. Especially if Republicans increase their majority in Congress. Unlike moderate Republicans (remember them?) the tea party threatens our nation with an extreme fundamentalist, evangelical Christian ideology that fears change, diversity and science.
Case in point: They demanded defunding ObamaCare after 41 failures to repeal the law in Congress and a clear defeat in the Supreme Court. Yet they continue to shove their religion and values down our throats by legislating ideology over national interests. Regrettably, Democrats are no better – confusing majority rule with a single-party state. They deserve each other – but we don’t deserve them.
We need a new breed of leader, one who builds consensus rather imposing demands through majority rule. Leadership requires that you know when, why and how to compromise for the common good. It’s a lot easier if you are likable.
Clearly, both parties fail to compromise and neither is likable. Yet, Republicans and Democrats are not equivalent. Their faults are as different as their ideologies. So it should come as no surprise that 60 percent of Americans want to replace all members of Congress – regardless of party affiliation.
So should we replace Peters, a Democratic insider, with DeMaio, a Republican? Here’s how Carl responded to my questions:
Do you want to repeal Obamacare?
We need health care reform, but I do not believe Obamacare as written will work. There are good parts that we need to keep, but bad parts like intrusive government mandates need to be reformed …
Your opponents call you a tea party extremist. How do you respond?
This is exactly the negativity and dysfunction in the political process that Americans are sick and tired of. Political campaigns have become about assigning emotionally charged labels to the other side and calling people names rather than discussing solutions and where people really stand on the issues. When they are calling the gay, pro-choice candidate a right-wing extremist, you know they are willing to distort things just to win an election.
Will you bend to the will of Republican leadership if you go to D.C.?
No, I’m running because I think we need to take on the status quo voices in the Republican Party. San Diegans know I have been willing to stand up to my own party – whether it was helping uncover the fiscal mess created by Mayor (Dick) Murphy or opposing Mayor (Jerry) Sanders’ big new City Hall project.
My reaction: DeMaio is reasonable, strong-willed and capable of changing the Republican Party from within. In this age of extreme partisanship, it is our patriotic duty to vote against those who rely on negative campaigns.
DeMaio won’t be welcomed into the tea party. Rather, he is exactly what they fear most: a rational pragmatist who wants to make government more efficient and effective at serving the needs of individuals.
I wanted to speak with Peters. Unfortunately, the only time I hear from his office is when I complain about his failures to help foster cross-border economic collaboration. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol policies hinder these efforts.
For example, although I have a national defense clearance, the idiosyncratic rules of Customs and Border Patrol disqualify me (and tens of thousands of other small business owners) from getting SENTRI passes. The rules are simply too stringent to be practical.
This is exactly the kind of bureaucratic problem that we elect representatives to Congress to fix. Yet Peters’ staff only responded after this tweet:
Thankfully, his staff called (again) and agreed to help (again). Let’s see what happens (again).
So my endorsement of DeMaio stands. At least it might upset the tea party, and send a clear message that we will not tolerate Democrats spewing distortions.
Olin Hyde is founder and chief executive of Englue. Hyde’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.