Cennamology Chief Editor
After bipartisan calls for his ousting, Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki announced his resignation amid a scandal involving the agency. While political circumstances certainly contributed to the resignation, it was needed as the agency is in desperate need of new leadership in order to move past this scandal and assure that something like this never happens again.
Out of all the "scandals" that have been associated with the Obama administration, this one by far has been the worst, as not only is it an actual scandal (unlike some others that Fox News likes to talk about), but it has resulted in the deaths of those men and women who deserve our care the most. Men and women who put their lives in danger should be assured that they have the best healthcare available. Their lives should not be in danger when they return home after defending our country.
It may be wishful thinking, but I hope that the Republican Party does not politicize the deaths of our most patriotic Americans caused by the long wait times, substandard care, and subsequent manipulation of records and cover up of the far-below-regulation quality of many VA facilities like they did the deaths in Benghazi.
This is not a time for divisive and partisan politics. This is a time for both parties to unite in order to find a solution to the VA's systemic problem. A glimmer of bipartisanship has already been seen by many Democrats and Republicans coming together to call for Shinseki's resignation. Those members of Congress should continue this rare bipartisan gleam by getting to the root of the problem and fixing the agency as quickly as possible.
However, if partisan politics wins in the end, it could prove to be destructive and render solving the VA's problem impossible. This happened with Benghazi. Since the Benghazi terrorist attacks happened during the 2012 race when Mitt Romney was falling in the polls, Republicans seized on the issue in order to damage the president. The party egregiously took the deaths of four Americans and politicized it as much as they could. They are politicizing it to this very day, with the National Republican Congressional Committee using the attacks in a recent fundraising email.
Because of this politicization, we will never find out what actually happened in Benghazi. The emotions that the attacks provoked from those on both sides of the aisle led to one party trying to figure out what actually happened (the Democrats) and another party trying to find anything they can find that would be damaging to President Obama (the Republicans). The parties could not work together with one of them trying to gain political advantages from the attacks, and because they were pursuing different goals, they were unable to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi. Now, we are at the point of no return, as Benghazi is now permanently ingrained as a partisan issue. Congress must ensure that it avoids doing the same thing with the VA scandal.
If Congress over-politicizes the VA scandal, it will be unlikely that the root of the problem will be found and even more unlikely that anything will get done. The lives that were lost as a result of the scandal should influence Democrats and Republicans to unite to make sure not a single veteran is subject to substandard care again. If they fail to do this, it will be a disservice not only to our veterans of the past, present, and future, but to all Americans, especially those with friends and relatives in the armed forces.
People are still in the emergency rooms suffering because of the substandard care in many VA facilities. Something must be done now. We do not have time to play politics. This should be about the veterans, not politics. I pray that the Republicans do not turn the VA scandal into another Benghazi.