All the way back in the far-off year of 2010, a rising Congressman by the name of Paul Ryan was being touted as the next great conservative policy wonk. Clutching a metaphorical Bible in one hand and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” in the other, Ryan swore that once the Republican Party wrested control of the White House back from Barack Obama, he would wipe the president’s signature Affordable Care Act right off the face of the Earth. He claimed that Obama’s plan amounted to a “bill that is full of gimmicks and smoke-and-mirrors” and constituted “a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud” in his address at a 2010 White House health summit, according to a Feb. 25, 2010 Washington Post article. With conservatives across the country furious at the increasingly prominent role the federal government was taking in American health care, Ryan promised that he could not only tear Obamacare to shreds, but also introduce a comprehensive privatized plan that would “invite true choice and competition” and “ensure [that] critical programs like Medicare and Medicaid can deliver on their promise in the 21st century,” according to his website. These are buzzwords that tell his conservative base exactly what they want to hear: The government will finally stop spending money on making sure that poor people do not die.

Seven years of “repeal and replace” and three election cycles’ worth of Tea Partiers and Donald Trump, but now-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan still cannot seem to find the votes to draft a replacement deal that resembles anything nearing his promises. His most recent effort, the American Health Care Act, was even less effective than the nearly 54 prior attempts that Republicans made to repeal Obamacare, according to a March 24, 2014 Washington Post article. At least the first 54 times, they actually managed to pass a vote in the House before falling on their faces in the Senate. Even with the president promising to personally assure the electoral defeat of any Republican who voted against the bill, as stated in a March 21 Washington Post article, Ryan simply could not whip up enough votes to proceed with enacting the bill he has been dreaming about “since [he] was drinking out of a keg.” No, your eyes did not fail you — the sitting Speaker of the House just bragged about how he spent his college years fantasizing about denying poor people benefits at frat parties, per a March 20 CNBC article.

You know what’s a good way to make sure you will be able to repeal the bill you have spent the better part of a decade and billions of dollars trying to dismantle? Do the exact opposite of what Ryan and his fellow Republicans did. Remember, the ACA took nearly two hard-fought years to even get a vote on the Senate floor; Ryan and Trump gave up after fifteen days. Instead of using their years in the wilderness to draft a proper healthcare plan, as Democrats did after their failed initial attempt to pass substantive healthcare reform in 1994, Republicans spent that time riling up an increasingly hard-line base with the promise that Obamacare could be completely erased from our collective history. They instead spent their time offering up “replacement” bills they knew would never prove palatable to Democrats or the members of their own party. By the time they took back the White House and had complete dominion over Congress, the party had long forgotten how to actually govern. The Republican Party is now largely comprised of hard-line conservative firebrands defined solely by their hatred of Obama and his presumed successor, Hillary Clinton. With Obama out of office and Clinton suffering a crack defeat, it should have been time for the party to stop pointing fingers and start putting their agenda in place. Instead, being in power has only emboldened the party’s worst habits, casting aside any semblance of sympathy for the average American in order to further indulge corporate and moneyed interests. As reported in a March 13 Washington Post article, the proposed healthcare plan would take healthcare away from 24 million people and raise premiums for everyone else by 500 percent, while also shifting the tax burden of medical care from the ultra-wealthy to the middle class — an act of sheer chutzpah. As long as Ryan and his party refuse to govern, the American public should feel no obligation to treat them with the respect traditionally afforded to authority, nor give credence to any of their media apologists. Whether it be through the ballot box or the comment box, citizens need to remind the elected officials supposedly representing them that they still have a duty to the country. While the recent furor directed at prominent Republicans like Utah’s Jason Chaffetz and Iowa’s Steve King at their own town halls is an encouraging sign, voters cannot allow themselves to lapse into complacency. According to Feb. 22 NPR article, these protests are even occurring in deep red states. If Americans do not keep up the effort, Ryan and his Congressional friends will continue to take an ax to the social services millions count upon for survival. Do not let Ryan’s kegger dreams become this country’s future.