- The US House of Representatives is scheduled tomorrow to vote on the House’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sammamish’s Congressional representative is Republican Dave Reichert, who has held his seat since 2005. He recently refused to hold Town Hall meetings with constituents because of the raucus reception other Republicans received over the prospect of repealing Obamacare.
Call it Dave Reichert’s “I am not a wimp” moment.
US Rep. Reichert, who represents the Sammamish area in Congress, frequently points to his 33 year career as King County Sheriff.
Aside from his signature achievement of helping identify and arrest the Green River serial killer, Reichert says he proved his bravery many times.
He uses this to explain why he won’t hold Town Hall meetings with constituents, especially these days when constituents are flooding Republican Town Hall Meetings to protest the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
Reichert voted in committee to repeal the ACA.
His fallback to his sheriff’s days to boast of his bravery is reminiscent of President George H. W. Bush and his famous statement, “I am not a wimp,” when criticized over perceived timidity.
Bush, the 41st President, didn’t have to prove his bravery. At age 18, he was a pilot flying fighters off aircraft carriers in World War II. He was shot down over an open ocean, eventually rescued by a US submarine.
Bush’s “wimp” image emerged during this years as Vice President and President because this true gentleman didn’t believe in the go-for-the-jugular approach to politics that we are used to today. He famously, if in an ill-advised way, proclaimed, “I am not a wimp.”
Few police officers can be a street cop, detective and sheriff for 33 years without experiencing moments in which bravery comes into play.
However, Reichert was elected to Congress in 2004, taking his seat in January 2005–12 years ago. Continuing to tout his prior occupation is ancient history. The pertinent question is, how has he performed in Congress?
The answer is, not well.
Profile in Timidity
Reichert’s history in Congress has been that of “lead from behind,” a posture for which I have utter disdain.
Elected officials are, by definition, leaders. They should lead. As a sheriff, Reichert was a leader. Reichert’s history in Congress is that of a pliant follower.
To be sure, he’s been on the “right” side of many issues that are important to his 8th Congressional District and Washington State. He’s more of an environmentalist than your average Republican these days. He supported setting aside land in this State for preservation and public enjoyment, rather than development.
But on the ACA, Reichert has been a profile in timidity. For the longest time, he remained silent or ambiguous on the issue. He refused to hold town hall meetings on this or other issues.
Reichert protesters have taken to shadowing him at public events.
After The Seattle Times last week published an article about Recihert’s silence, he finally issued a statement defending the Republican bill replacing Obamacare. He backed off his pledge not to support a bill that would kick people off a health care system.
Following, not leading
Reichert says the current GOP bill is just the “first step” in replacing the ACA.
Good grief–the Republicans targeted the ACA ever since it was passed in the first year of President Obama’s two terms. Why didn’t they take the ensuing seven years to craft a repalcement, ready to go this year? Where was Reichert’s leadership?
The answer is, there wasn’t any. It’s Reichert the Follower, not Reichert the Leader.
Unfortunately, in the last redistricting, Reichert was given a safe Republican seat, as opposed to the potentially swing district he represented previously.
Reichert has no incentive to be a leader. He can just sit back, smile, make excuses and be the follower he’s been since he was elected.
He does a disservice to those he represents.
On the other hand, now that Reichert has no worries about reelection, he is in a position to take bold actions and lead, rather than follow.
Doing so would serve his constituents better than sitting back and relaxing.