Guest column: When government is the problem…

The Daily Ardmoreite
Tony Choate

Ronald Reagan is well known for saying “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

However, that famous quote has been misused for years. It has been taken by many to establish some kind of imaginary line of separation between the people and the government.

We are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. When the government is the problem, it is the responsibility of the people to fix it.

Saying it is not an easy fix is a massive understatement. It involves hard work on the part of voters and some difficult discussions with those who represent us.

A great leader once said, good leaders need to be good followers.

Representatives have a responsibility to listen to their constituents and take their views into consideration, but that is only the beginning of their job.   

Our representatives in government also have a responsibility to know more about any particular issue than most of us voters. That is why we elect them to their full-time job, because we trust them to do their due diligence.

Our representatives should have honest discussions with voters, even when that may include telling constituents they are wrong. Those are difficult discussions, but that is the job of a leader.

Congresswoman Elizabeth Cheney is a shining example of a representative who takes her leadership responsibility seriously.

In spite of massive resistance by Republican “leadership,” Rep. Cheney has repeatedly stood up for her constituents and the American people by insisting on a full investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A majority of Americans believe we need to fully investigate the events that led hundreds of people to invade the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.

In sharp contrast with Republican Congresswoman Cheney, Kevin McCarthy, supposedly the leader of Republicans in the House, has totally abandoned his responsibilities as a leader.

“Leader” McCarthy has consistently opposed any investigation, but that is only his latest dereliction of duty.

There is a very simple reason “leader” McCarthy does not want to investigate those who used violence to try and overturn the election.

Even after protesters violently attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election, McCarthy voted to overturn the election. Think about that a moment.

With that vote, “leader” McCarthy gave his stamp of approval to the protesters.

That vote can only be seen by those protesters as approval of the violent attack and encouragement to commit more violence.

By voting to overturn the election, he repeated the message he had been sending for months. That our government is broken.   

In the weeks following the election, McCarthy and other “leaders” repeatedly denied the legitimacy of the election.

After allegations of fraud had been fully investigated and litigated in the courts, “leader” McCarthy and others continued to deny the legitimacy of the election.

At that point, denying the legitimacy of the election required denying the legitimacy of both our judicial branch of government and our electoral process.

Even after the violent attack on our democracy, “leader” McCarthy and others continued to promote the conspiracy theories that fueled the attack.

Our government is broken, but not in the way these so-called “leaders” continue to imply.   

Government has become the problem because too many of our elected representatives fail to do their duty as leaders and choose only to follow a vocal but misguided minority.

In May, “leader” McCarthy said that no one doubts the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election. However, as mom used to say, “actions speak louder than words.”

Even if McCarthy does not doubt the legitimacy of the election, he continues to cater to that small minority who do. In so doing, he continues to cast doubt on the legitimacy of our very government and encourage fringe groups to take violent action.

By continuing his opposition to an investigation, McCarthy reinforces the message that protesters were doing the right thing.

“Leader” McCarthy and other Republicans who want to be actual leaders should do their research.

They would discover that our American electoral system and our judicial branch of government are both intact and functioning properly.

After doing their research, they would do well to explain to their constituents that our American democratic process and judicial system remain the strongest and most trusted in all the world.  

If they are not up to being leaders, they should learn to follow the majority of Americans who believe we need to investigate the events that led up to January 6.

If they are unable to lead or follow, we must make sure they get out of the way.

— Tony Choate has lived in the Ardmore area for more than 50 years. He earned his master's degree in political science from Purdue University after earning a bachelor's degree in legal studies from East Central University. He worked for several years as an adjunct instructor for Murray State College, teaching courses in American history and American government and politics.