While it might be a bit premature since I had to write this before the final votes were counted Tuesday evening, I'd like to extend my personal congratulations to all the candidates who earned a vote of confidence from local voters.
In addition to selecting who they wanted to serve as their next president, voters in Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry and surrounding communities were offered plenty of contenders this year, each of them promising to make things better for those who live here.
Now, it's time for each of them to make good on those promises by getting to work and start leading.
For those who are new to the political world, they will find it's significantly harder than it looks from the outside. Even a seemingly simple revision to a law can generate a ton of conflicting information.
As odd as it may seem, government is designed to be clumsy and slow at all levels -- city, county, state and nationally. In some ways, it's meant to be that way on purpose. Call it a "safety valve" if you will.
That process is designed to prevent someone from making an off-the-cuff, rapid-fire decision. That can be frustrating to both elected officials and the public, but it tends to give those in office enough time to really think about the decisions they have to make.
Almost no decision those in office make will be cut and dried or black or white. Running for office is the easy part, but being able to make good decisions is something completely different.
It doesn't get any easier when the issue at hand is more complex than people might think at first blush. That's why major national issues involving highly complex problems often seem to take forever to resolve.
What doesn't help at all is when political parties become so bogged down in power games and dogma that even a good solution gets rejected out of hand simply because the other side proposed it. God forbid that this state or the United States actually solves a problem because someone on the other side of the political fence mentioned the idea or will get credit for proposing it.
After all the political theater we've seen over the past two years alone, I seriously doubt we'll see any progress made on Capitol Hill, unless one political party is in charge of the White House and has a majority on Capitol Hill. Even then, I would bet good money that those not in the majority will try to sabotage anything that might help all Americans just because they can.
Welcome to the new way of doing business, I guess.
For those new to the political arena, I humbly offer one word of advice: Take your time. About the worst thing that could happen right now is having someone new in a political office that immediately goes in and starts "cleaning house," so to speak.
I believe it's best to take a few weeks -- maybe a couple of months -- to learn how things are done before making any changes.
The best leaders I've known over the years were those who took the time and met face-to-face with those with firsthand knowledge of the issues affecting their communities. These leaders listened to their constituents, patiently took notes and took their time before making any changes.
Our newly elected politicians can learn a lot from that way of doing business.
Among the myriad of issues affecting this country over the next two to four years, here's one thing I hope our elected officials can address -- do something to curb inflation. While it's a word we don't hear very often, it represents a significant problem in communities where people struggle to make ends meet.
Consider this. Just 20 years ago, my wife and I could buy four loaves of bread for $1 when they were on special. Today, a single loaf can cost $2 or more, and I've seen fancier brands sell for $4 or more on average, which is absolutely absurd.
Don't get me started on the price of a gallon of milk, which costs about the same as a gallon of gasoline.
What really upsets me is seeing the numbers of people that line up in front of the El-Ada Community Action Agency as well as local food banks to receive basic necessities to help put meals on their tables. Many of these people are holding down at least one job to make ends meet, but they are still forced to stand in line just to get some food.
This is something that should never happen in the world's greatest nation. No one should be forced to hold down multiple jobs and work themselves to death just to survive.
Then there's the whole issue with the skyrocketing costs of health care in this nation, which our politicians promised they would "fix." What they should've done is find ways to cap rising costs of medical care and prescription medications to keep those prices in check.
Instead, our politicians passed a shoddy law that made it mandatory for everyone in this country to have medical insurance. As we've seen in recent weeks, the Affordable Care Act is becoming less affordable for those it was designed to help with premiums in many states expected to climb next year.
Granted, the law is supposed to provide subsidies for those who can't afford a policy, but how much more money can the government pump into this program before it goes bankrupt?
When it comes to finding solutions that actually work, the major political parties in this country need to do something that hasn't happened in a number of years -- learn to compromise. As voters have seen over the past seven years alone, the idea of politicians wanting to work together on behalf of all Americans has become taboo or a forbidden word.
And it's not limited to politics at the national level. We've seen it happen right here within our own legislative district when one of our representatives "dared" to break from the ranks because they had genuine concerns over a piece of legislation.
Because those concerns seemed to deal directly with firearms, that representative was met with condemnation. From my perspective, that one issue became the key message that voters heard when they went to the polls last May and voted the person out of office.
This is the same one-sided attitude that we've seen in Congress in recent years. Regardless of who sits in the White House starting this January, I'm guessing things will only going to get worse. Prepare for the massive gridlock currently in Congress to only increase.
What we need to see instead is for politicians to hit the ideological "refresh" button and start thinking about what's best for their constituents, versus themselves or their political party. Play time is over. It's time to govern.
-- Brian S. Orban