Speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich implored the assembled activists to make the Republican Party the “party of yes.” However, other party leaders stood at the podium urging Republicans to be the “party of no.
Afterwards, a cable news host asked me if I agreed with Speaker Gingrich or if I thought the Republican Party should be the “party of no.”
The question missed the point.
To govern is to choose. Yes and no are two sides of the same coin. To govern well means knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” In America, it is the People who call heads or tails, yes or no.
But over the past year, a troubling disconnect has emerged between the People and their government. When the American people chose yes or no, many of their elected representatives chose the opposite.
When taxpayers raised concerns about growing deficits, Washington responded with more spending and more borrowing. When patients asked for health reform that lowers costs, Washington responded with a $1.3 trillion bill that drives costs higher. When unemployed workers demanded action to create jobs, Washington responded with a job-killing cap-and-trade energy tax.
This disconnect – the chasm between what the American people want and what Washington does – has left America weaker, poorer, and less free.
It is time to bridge the divide. It is time to restore the People’s rightful place at the head of their government. To do that, the American people must speak and their elected representatives must listen.
House Republicans are embarking on an unprecedented effort to engage the American people in developing a new policy agenda. The centerpiece of this effort is AmericaSpeakingOut.com, where citizens are empowered to set the agenda through suggestion and debate. Through AmericaSpeakingOut.com, social media, and town hall meetings across the country, the American people will revolutionize the way Washington does business. At the end of this process, a policy agenda of, by, and for the American people will be on the way to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Democracy is both a privilege and a responsibility. Whether it succeeds or fails is up to you. Let’s make democracy work again at AmericaSpeakingOut.com.
Congressman Bill Cassidy is a practicing physician who represents Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
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