Noticing progress (and those opposed to it) | Ott Observations

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I spent the past few weeks on a vacation, driving to the east coast and back.  There were road construction delays on virtually every highway I traveled.  

Rather than get frustrated, I actually felt a growing sense of excitement. People everywhere were being employed in good jobs, repairing and improving our bridges and highways.  Progress feels good.

Earlier this year, our government finally passed legislation to make a long-term investment in infrastructure. This was something Donald Trump and Republican congressmen promised in the 2016 election. They failed to deliver, despite having a majority in both the House and Senate. 

Our Congressman Mike Bost, who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, voted against the infrastructure bill. His website says he didn’t approve of everything in the bill – a bill that went through multiple compromises over the past year. No one liked everything in the bill, yet Rep. Bost would rather have zero progress than compromise.

China has emerged as the most significant threat to the United States. For now, it is an economic battle and one of influence over all nations that look for help from a world power. Recently, our government passed legislation to provide incentives to re-establish computer chip manufacturing in the U.S.  

American companies made their free market decisions to buy computer chips from Asia rather than make them here. Like all global supply chains, this one is vulnerable to disruptions due to pandemics, natural disasters, trade wars and enemy economic policy. This is why you can’t easily get a new car right now.

Our tanks, our planes, our naval ships, our satellites, our guided missiles and even our artillery shells require computer chips to operate with their incredible precision. Identifying a strong, domestic computer chip industry as a critical national defense need is pretty much a no-brainer.  The semiconductor bill also provides incentives to find local sources of the raw materials needed for chip production and battery production, as we engineer an increasing array of vehicles to run on electric. 

Rep. Bost voted against this bill, despite his positioning that he is strong on national defense.

Our government recently passed more important legislation, allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices from drug companies. Drug companies charge more in the U.S. for their products than they charge elsewhere in the world. That is because the U.S. has more money than any other country.

As the insurer of millions, Medicare is the single largest customer in the world. In a free market, why shouldn’t Medicare drive hard for the best volume purchase price? And why wouldn’t you want your insurer to do the same rather than pass on higher drug prices to you?

Rep. Bost voted against this legislation.

The legislation also included some initial steps to stall or reduce our climate destruction. Neighboring St. Clair County just got approved for federal disaster relief after the most intense rainstorm anyone can recall in their lifetime. Southern Illinois just missed one of the most destructive tornadoes in history that tore a 200-mile path through Kentucky. Hurricane Ian has just changed life as some knew it for a generation in southwest Florida. 

Yet somehow, our U.S. representative couldn’t find a way to support even some timid first steps to address climate damage we can only hope can be reversed.

Thanks to the work of the House Jan. 6 Committee, it is now painfully clear that our 2020 national election, the foundation of our democracy, was subjected to a serious attempt to overthrow the results.  The only suspense is if and when the Justice Department will make arrests, prosecute and possibly imprison those responsible.  

Our representative participated in this insurrection, voting to reject certified results from some states and joining a case sent to the Supreme Court to do the same.  To this day, if he has uttered a word that he was mistaken, I’m not aware of it. 

He took a vow to protect our Constitution and he failed. After 9/11, President Bush declared a clear line in the sand, stating to all nations that you are either with us or you are with the terrorists. That line, sadly, now exists within our country. No one who believes in our democracy can continue to support election denial after the evidence we’ve now seen.

I know many of you would rather vote for the worst Republican ever than a Democrat. Look at where progress is happening in our country and consider who is trying to destroy our democracy. 

Homer “Chip” Markel is Bost’s opponent in this election. He supports all the progress our Congress has gotten started – even if he doesn’t exactly agree with everything. He’s running for office because he’s tired of the lack of progress and obstruction of any efforts to get something done. He’s a military veteran and has served as a union leader. 

I haven’t talked to him personally but I’ll bet he knows an insurrection when he sees one.

I think it’s time to vote for progress, however flawed, than endless ideological arguments. And it’s time to vote out cowardice that abandoned defense of the Constitution for the sake of party loyalty.

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