Opinion: Our government does work, but not like it should

by Guy Furay

For the past two years, I have been involved in a personal experiment of sorts to see what is actually is happening in government at the state and federal level.

Part of this was prompted by what I do for a career — I own an independent insurance agency specializing in health insurance. With this background, we are literally at ground zero in the debate about health care in the United States. If you have a pulse, you know this industry has been in a state of almost constant flux. Many of my clients and partners come to me looking for answers. So many questions, that I began to run out of answers, so I wanted to go to the source.

I’ve traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, including the entire South Carolina delegation individually as well as dozens of national leaders including Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Senator Chris Coons, D-Del. During these meetings, I have tried to focus my efforts on what is working, what is broken, why it is broken, and how we could fix it. Further, I was personally invited by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., to participate on a select panel of about 10 leaders here in the Upstate who are on the frontlines of the efforts to fix health care. This panel included the CEOs of several of the major hospitals in the Upstate. I have been to Columbia numerous times, most recently with my Leadership Greer class.

My conclusion after all of these meetings is that our health care system is complicated and it will take a cooperative effort from across the entire spectrum to fix it. While I went on these trips to gain a better understanding of our broken health care system and to be a part of the solution to fix it, I discovered something much more valuable.

Our government does work, but not like it should be working. Why is that? Why is the system not working? To be blunt, the system doesn’t work because our government is controlled by two political parties that are separating more and more each second on their ideological bases. We are seeing people being elected who don’t care about governing, just scoring points for their side.

This isn’t a new thing, but the chasm is growing because neither side’s leadership wants to reach across the “aisle” on compromise. They are forgetting that the aisle connecting them is the American people. The people of South Carolina. They treat the people of America like robots who are programmed to only vote one way and one way only.

I often hear people complain that too few people actually vote. That is a byproduct of a rigged system. Neither party reaches out to the middle during the primaries. They seek their “hardcore” supporters and fill them with disinformation. And when it comes time for a general election, people in the middle are often left voting for the lesser of two evils. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough that Americans should be angry. Not frightened. They need to get angry. They are not being represented by people who actually want to serve them.

And yet, work gets done the vast majority of the time because there are people being elected who actually care about the people that didn’t push a button for them on some random November day. They are able to find compromises and put together deals. But many of them are being driven out with wild calls that don’t represent the “party.” Think about that. Most of the anger comes from people rallying for the party — not for the people.

Is there a better way? We often hear about people launching third-party campaigns, but again the two parties in power are quick to say that is throwing a vote away or, in an effort to shock and terrify, by voting third party, they are giving the opposition party an election win.

But of course, the parties are going to say that. They don’t want the 44 percent of people who don’t identify as Republican or Democrat to have an option outside of them. They like the system the way it is because it works best for them.

Not the people.

To quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

This article was previously published in The Greenville Journal.