The Ripon Forum

Volume 52, No. 6

December 2018

It’s Time to Return Common Sense to Washington

By on December 17, 2018

by PAUL PATE

Like many Americans, I look at the discord in Washington, D.C. and shake my head with disgust. The constant bickering and pursuit of a soundbite to air repeatedly on cable news needs to stop. It is time for D.C. politicians to put people over party and get back to public service.

The partisan divide in our country seems to be getting larger and our leaders in Washington are contributing to it. We need our elected officials to stop demonizing every idea that comes from the other party simply because it comes from the other party. It’s not about who came up with the idea. It should be about getting the job done in the best interest of the American people.

I’m a small government conservative, but that does not mean I reject all ideas that come from the Democratic Party just because Democrats proposed them. Nor should they reject ideas just because Republicans proposed them. There are good ideas from both sides of the aisle.

As the owner of a successful small business, former state senator, former mayor, and current Iowa Secretary of State, I know the value of finding common ground to accomplish things. That is what I would like to see our leaders in Washington do. President Trump and the members of Congress need to find common ground on economic issues, healthcare, immigration and national defense to make our country stronger.

As Iowa’s Secretary of State, I have made it a priority for my office to work at the speed of business, not the speed of government.

Rather than standing on their soap boxes and making speeches about what is wrong with the other political party, I would like to see our federal officials huddle up and work together on what we agree on. The President and Congress need to each lay out an agenda the American public can relate to and support. That common ground can help them determine the details of what pieces of the plan can be implemented today and what might require a more patient strategy.

As Iowa’s Secretary of State, I have made it a priority for my office to work at the speed of business, not the speed of government. We strive to give small businesses the service they need, when they need it. That is the way the federal government needs to work. They need to partner more effectively with the U.S. Small Business Administration, community colleges, chambers of commerce, city governments and other groups that have a vested interest in businesses launching and thriving.

Continuing to reduce and cut government overregulation should be a top priority. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. It is imperative that we free them up to focus on putting their product or service out and not having to be paper shufflers, burdened with the heavy hand of government at every turn. Common sense needs to be returned to government. The system should be helping entrepreneurs cut through the red tape instead of adding layers of bureaucracy.

We strive to give small businesses the service they need, when they need it. That is the way the federal government needs to work.

States serve as the laboratories to a better government and, as such, Congress and the President would do well to look to the states for successful models. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Iowa as the number one state in the country. We are perfectly situated in the heart of the Midwest to allow our state to promote value-added agriculture, wind energy, and many other areas. Iowa has one of the highest voting registration and participation rates in the nation, the best high school graduation rate in the nation and robust civic engagement in all corners of the state. Every state has unique strengths they can draw upon to be competitive internationally, if cultivated and promoted properly. That partnership between the private sector and government is crucial. That is a role the federal government can play.

Americans want a Congress that works for them. Our citizens’ voices need to be heard. If we do not stop the partisan bickering, Americans will lose confidence in our elections process. It is imperative those of us in elected offices set an example in how we run our campaigns and how we conduct ourselves when we are serving the public. Demonizing someone else because their viewpoint differs from yours is counterproductive.

President Ronald Reagan‘s farewell message about the “shining city on a hill” is still a dream Americans believe in. They are asking their government leaders to clear a path, remove barriers and level the playing field. Americans do not need a hand out, but a hand up. Give citizens the tools and the knowledge needed to succeed, so they too can have a piece of the American dream. I believe that is what state government and local government do best. Congress need to take a page out of that playbook.

Paul Pate serves as Secretary of State of Iowa.

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