Congressman Tom Cole, R-Okla., has been making the rounds across his district to take the pulse of his constituents following a tumultuous period in Washington D.C., highlighted by a government shutdown.
And in the midst of dissatisfaction that can be found within every conversation regarding politics, Cole says there are a number of things that are positive that have taken place in Congress. He lists four major budget deals, a deficit that has been cut in half with Congress and the Senate working on a budget deal, which would be their first since 2009.
But other deadlines loom on the horizon, such as funding running out on Jan. 15 and a debt-ceiling conversation that will need to take place.
"There is no question it is a very difficult time for the country," Cole said Thursday. "Between all the strife, there is something positive going on. I think we can get to the point where we don't have to go from debt ceiling to debt ceiling."
Cole said there is a consensus in Washington to not allow funding to run out, setting the stage for another shutdown. He said the response from his constituents prior to the shutdown was people were opposed to it.
"Most people are opposed to Obamacare, but that was the inappropriate way to go against it," he said. "I always thought it was a misguided tactic. But I understand why they did it.
"When you have a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate, it is hard to get rid of it. But that doesn't mean you can't change it. We changed it seven times. This thing is such a debacle that even some Democrats are for delaying it."
Cole said true change must come about through the elections. And there is a chance for that with mid-terms taking place in 2014. In Oklahoma, opposition is not an issue, with Republicans carrying all the seats in Congress as well as the Senate. President Obama also failed to carry a single county within the state in 2012.
"What is so frustrating for Oklahomans, they wonder what is wrong with the rest of the country," he said. "And I'm sure in California, they wonder what is going on in Oklahoma.
"Our problem is not the Republicans that are in Washington, the problem is there are not enough up there."
The Republicans do have a majority in Congress, which Cole credited with making strides with the economic health of the country. Cole said since the Republicans took over Congress, the deficit has been cut in half, which is no small task. He said Congress has successfully opposed a number of Obama's initiatives, as the President has been surrounded by controversies. Cole cited the attack of the Benghazi embassy, controversy within the IRS, the uncertainty of Obama's policy in regard to Syria and the rollout of the healthcare plan.
"I think it will be a good year for Republicans if they are careful and learn from the shutdown," Cole said. "Republicans need to be principled in their opposition and avoid extreme tactics."
Cole said the biggest job is to oppose in a respectful and appropriate manner. And should that happen, the party could gain momentum and gain seats in the Senate and, ultimately, regain the Presidency and make a real concerted effort to abolish the healthcare act.
"This law has never had popular support," Cole said. "He did not win his first election on healthcare. He had a single page with eight points, which turned into 2,000 pages. At some point, they focused on this rather than economic reform, and they had the Congress and Senate and were able to pass it."
Cole also touted his voting record, noting he voted against Obamacare 40 times, opposed the Frank Dodd Act as well as bailouts, and received an A-plus from the NRA. He also said he received a 92 percent conservative voting record. But he said he has found instances in which he could work with the Democrats. One instance, Cole said, was the President's willingness to end sequester.
"I have found ways I could work with the Federal government," Cole said. "There is a way to do this. We have to recognize we can work together. And if there is an area we can work together, I am willing to do that."
But healthcare is not an area that would be involved, as Cole cited several instances where the public was misled, including the day it would be available, the lower costs and the Democratic contention that everyone who liked their current insurance would be able to keep it.
"The President has brought a lot of this on himself," Cole said. "He needs to look in the mirror and ask what he did to create this opposition."
Even with the problems, Cole insists the American Dream is still alive, and the things that made the country great still exist.
"Have a little faith in the country and its basic values and institutions," he said. "America has gotten through everything okay, and we are pretty good at getting through strife. We need to look at the things that made America great.
"Overall, America tends to get things right. The system will work, we just need to keep giving it a chance to work."