We’ve never met, but I still feel like I know you. I guess after watching you lead the House of Representatives for the past two years, I have seen all of your ups and downs. Admittedly, there have been many more of the latter than the former. You finally wrenched the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi and it turns out that your caucus barely listens to you – kind of like the substitute teacher who stands in front of the class and can hardly get a word in as the students throw paper planes and stand on the desks. You tried and tried and tried to get rid of Obamacare, but it lives on. I mean, even John Roberts didn’t stick by you. Congress’ approval rating sinks by the day to unprecedented levels of mediocrity as people become more fed up with the job that you and your colleagues are doing.
Then this past weekend happened. This must be the lowest of the low, right? Some freshman Senator has started dictating Republican policy, demanding that a budget be passed on the condition of defunding healthcare. And now, the government has shut down. The National Institute of Health has brought its seasonal flu program to a halt. Four hundred national parks and museums are shuttered. Veteran’s Affairs will not process education and rehabilitation benefits. 800,000 federal employees have written their out-of-office messages and will not return until this mess is fixed. The list goes on. Remember when John Winthrop said that America would be a shining city on a hill with the eyes of the world upon it? Well, the world is watching and it looks like we’re embarrassing ourselves.
So, Mr. Speaker, the question is: where do we go from here? Where do you go from here? Given that you have tried to repeal or modify parts of the Affordable Care Act about forty times, and it has survived a Supreme Court challenge and a presidential election, I think it’s time to move on. Don’t be that guy who is forever hung up on the one that got away. Assert your authority, round up the caucus, and whip the necessary votes to pass a budget resolution with no strings attached. You may even have to get some Democratic votes. And that’s okay! The bottom line is: fund the government. Do it now.
I know that this will not be easy for you: the Ted Cruzes of the world will question your leadership or call you an ideological traitor. But were you sent to Washington to represent Ted Cruz or the American people? It’s your call, Mr. Speaker. You have the gavel. You have the leadership position. Use it.
And if you just can’t do it, if your caucus just refuses to listen and you refuse to reach across the aisle for the greater good, then perhaps it’s time to give the gavel to someone else.
Good luck, Mr. Speaker. I’m rooting for you.