BY CONGRESSMAN CHARLES DJOU, R-2010 – This past weekend, four U.S. soldiers were killed in the Zhari District of Kandahar, Afghanistan when their vehicle drove over a Taliban emplaced improvised explosive device.  Having driven over the same road while serving in the same district in Afghanistan where these soldiers died, I am particularly struck that these soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, will return home this week to a nation that initially refused to pay their families the military death benefit used for funeral expenses.  This is yet another in a string of political casualties caused by the on-going government shutdown.

Democrats are blaming Republicans saying that Republicans caused the government shutdown.  Republicans are blaming Democrats saying that the GOP passed a Defense bill fully funding situations like this during the shutdown.  Both sides claim they are blameless, but neither party has demonstrated the courage and selflessness, that those four soldiers exhibited in laying down their lives for this nation.  And the political casualties of this partisan war in Washington D.C. are ultimately the American people.

America deserves better than Democrat and Republican politicians, who only know how to point fingers and accept no responsibility.  Our nation needs elected officials who are willing to regularly break ranks with their partisan leadership to find common ground and get things done.

Sadly, the overwhelming majority of members of Congress – including all members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation – vote lock-step with their political parties.  In D.C., finding common ground with the opposition to produce solutions is all too rare and finding fault with the opposition to produce gridlock is all too common.

We need leaders who are willing to find common ground.  A few, on both sides of the aisle, have made reasonable proposals to end the government shutdown.  For example, West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchian proposed a compromise that involved delaying the Obamacare individual mandate for one year since the President has already delayed the employer mandate for one year.  Likewise, a proposal by Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent includes repeal of the Obamacare tax on medical devices, which both parties agree on.  These are reasonable proposals that show us a way forward offered by two of the few remaining moderates in Congress today, but they have been completely ignored.

The ultimate solution, indeed the only solution, to this sorry state of affairs is for the voters to take charge.  Hawaii and America need to replace our country’s hyper-partisan incumbents with centrist moderates willing to compromise and put the best interests of our country first.

We deserve better.  Those soldiers who died this past weekend in Kandahar and their families deserve nothing less.

Charles Djou served with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10thMountain Division (Light Infantry) at Forward Operating Base Pasab in the Zhari District of Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2011-12.  He previously represented Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

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