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Mike and Ted's Excellent Adventure

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Here we are on Week 2 of Mike and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Mr. Boehner, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz have led the U.S. Congress to shut down a good portion of the United States government because they are trying to stop implementation of legislation that was passed by Congress three years ago. They have tried to defund the Affordable Care Act over 100 times in the past three years. They have failed each time. According to last Friday's National Journal poll, that is not an accident -- 57 percent of Americans support implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The good news, however, is that this dysfunctional behavior may be just the catalyst Americans need to replace the 468 members of Congress who will stand for election in November of 2014.

That's right, boys and girls. I said replace all of them. The current struggle over the budget is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing or a Tea Party thing. It is not even really about health care. This is about sending people to Washington who think differently than the people who are there now. The people who are there now are trapped by old ways of thinking, and need to be replaced.

At a business strategy conference in San Diego yesterday, I listened to entrepreneur and author Peter Sheahan describe a conversation he had with Russian chess master Garry Kasparov. Sheahan asked Kasparov which of his many world championships was the most difficult. Kasparov replied that winning the third time was the most difficult. He explained that when he first became the youngest-ever world chess champion in 1985, his strategy was new and unique. He won again the following year using the same strategy. The third year, he said, was the hardest because he not only had to apply a new strategy but he had to unlearn the old strategy. He said the temptation to revert to the old strategy was overwhelming when the pressure was on, but he credits his third victory to his ability to win in a new way. In Washington today, we are witnessing people who can't unlearn the old strategies of Democrats and Republicans and Tea Parties. That is why we need to commit ourselves to sending 468 fresh Americans to Washington in November of 2014.

Wait, do we really have to wait until 2014? Yes, boys and girls, that is why the game we are watching in Washington is happening this year, in 2013. Because the players are betting that by next November -- we the people -- will have forgotten their inability to get a budget passed on time in 2013. That is one of the old strategies of Democrats and Republicans and Tea Parties. Come on, let's you and I and our friends and neighbors across this great country show them that the old strategy won't work this time.

There is no reason why we have to accept business as usual. The Constitution gives us the power to replace 87 percent of Congress every two years precisely so we can overcome the kinds of bureaucratic malaise we are witnessing today. We should use that power.

There is no reason why we cannot have a balanced budget in 2016. There will be hard choices. We won't all get what we want. We will have to reform Social Security and welfare and probably even the Affordable Care Act. We won't spend as much on defense as some think we should. But we will have a president in the final year of his second term -- a perfect moment for a statesmanlike compromise between liberals and conservatives. All we need is a Congress that understands it does not serve the Republic of Ted or the Republic of Mike but rather the republic of all of us. We need that Congress more than ever. Without it, we will bequeath our children an unsustainable legacy of dysfunction and debt.