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The Challenge of Governing, the Responsibility of Leading

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

There has been much analysis of the failed House GOP healthcare plan. Let me start by making it perfectly clear, I am a Constitutional Conservative, and the possibility of the Democratic Party, progressive socialists, ever having control of our federal government is unacceptable. We can blame and assail the GOP all we want, but we can never go back to the days of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or Chuck Schumer having positions of abject power in our Republic. For the liberal progressive left that owns the Democratic Party, it is not about governing, it is about mandating.

We are in the situation where we find ourselves with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because of the left. When they controlled the White House, Senate, and House, they believed it was their calling to mandate behavior to the American people. And they did so under the threat of taxation, via individual and employer mandates. Their concept of governance is based upon a wealth redistribution scheme that punishes one group and gives to another, who then becomes their loyal electorate.

The first point the GOP failed to do when seeking to repeal Obamacare was to define it, now we clearly see its failure. The “Affordable Care Act” is nothing of the sort, it is merely a tax and welfare law. It is twenty new taxes and a massive wealth redistribution, which has had a detrimental effect on our economy and its growth, especially for hard working American small business owners. Obamacare is also a gross expansion of Medicaid, a welfare program. If the GOP was to be successful in driving a stake into the heart of this vampire, they first had to articulate to the American people, in simple concise terms, why it was Nosferatu.

The challenge of governing in America for the GOP is to clearly delineate their fundamental difference from the left, unabashedly. President Trump did so quite well in his address to the joint session of Congress in February. Sadly, four days later President Trump took to Twitter and changed his own narrative from his vision and policy agenda to wiretapping of Trump tower. The responsibility of leading is to stay laser focused and maintain the moral high ground, while constantly staying on offense, as you never win being on defense.

I was blessed to have the opportunity to serve in Congress and even more so to have a career in the US Army. Here are my recommendations to President Trump and the GOP going forward. First, you have just suffered a tactical defeat, the goal now is to recover, conduct a lessons learned drill, and move toward strategic victory. The start of the Revolutionary War, World War II, and the Korean War did not go very well for the United States. However, if you maintain your vision towards the greater victory, you can recover. The greater victory for President Trump and the GOP is economic growth, domestically.

I learned as a young officer that when you sit and try to develop the perfect 100% plan, you become wedded to that plan. You end up not developing viable alternative courses of action because you have put so much energy into one plan. And anyone that has ever been a leader in our military will tell you our seminal maxim, no plan survives first contact. The adept leader creates that 70-75% plan that provides a level of flexibility, it is well understood and rehearsed, and is executed to 100% brilliance. The enemy always has a vote and the best leader is the one who can command a fluid situation flawlessly.

I must admit, watching the Speaker of the House at a press conference with suit jacket off, sleeves rolled up, trying to explain the House GOP healthcare plan via power point slides was not the embodiment of a confident leader. It appeared more of a politician, a salesman, trying to sell a product.

Governing for the GOP means creating the simple policy solutions that enable the American people to pursue happiness, one of our individual unalienable rights. The left believes in that which is antithetical, that they should seek to mandate laws to guarantee happiness. Governing entails the power of leadership, while mandating embraces coercion, intimidation, and tools of behavior modification as means to achieve its ends.

Right now President Trump needs to plan out a day to sit with the entire House and Senate GOP members. They need to come to grips with the understanding of what is their governing philosophy. What do they believe is the relationship between the federal government and the American citizen? This has to be their guiding premise, just as you have principles of war to follow, they must decide what their principles are – not rigid, but fundamental. They must decide what does victory look like from a strategic perspective, with long term objectives. From that point, they can assess what are the short term goals that will achieve those objectives. The days of the circular firing squad must end, and understand there will always be the “Dr. No’s” of the GOP, but they must understand that it is easy to rant about what you are against, the challenge of governing, the responsibility of leading is to say what you are for.

And what every one of them should be for is the restoration of this Constitutional Republic, American economic growth and prosperity, to empower American citizens with individual sovereignty and not collective subjugation, to reduce the adverse impact of the bureaucratic administrative state, and to safeguard our freedoms, liberty, and way of life from those domestically and globally who would threaten it.

Time for President Trump and the GOP to put on their big boy and girl pants. It's time to govern, it's time to lead.

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