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Watching government at work is a lot like watching children interact. First, we have elections, which are contests to see who can grab the most power. A burst piñata springs quickly to mind in looking for a similar event in childhood. Votes are the candy, and many of those grappling for them will resort to any measure necessary to ensure they gather the most.
Honest ways exist to secure support from voters, but they require the “children” in this scenario to work between elections. When we say work, we rule out standing in the way of others who are attempting to enact legislation. Name-calling and finger-pointing don’t qualify, either. They are simply more childish actions that accomplish nothing.
We Americans would like to see our deliberative bodies do that: Deliberate. Webster’s says that means “to think about or discuss issues carefully.” What we get instead is one political party refusing to consider ideas suggested by the other. The result is that nothing gets done.
An Associated Press story made the case last week.
“Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is making it abundantly clear that GOP lawmakers have no interest in helping President Barack Obama further his policy agenda during the 112th Congress. In fact, McConnell … has boldly stated that one of the party’s primary goals over the next two years is to ensure that Obama faces defeat during his 2012 re-election bid.”
The parent in us feels a strong desire to send McConnell to stand in a corner until he learns to behave. The citizen in us knows our situation is much too dire for our lawmakers to act as such brats. The AP report said McConnell was speaking for the entire Republican party, so the mental image becomes one of approximately half the children in Congress holding their collective breath until the nation passes out.
We have a different view of the Americans they are supposed to represent. The Americans we know want to make progress against threats to our well-being. They want our borders and jobs and currency to be secured against anyone who would do us harm. We have seen in recent years that security in those areas is lacking, so we know there’s plenty of hard work to be done. That work will require honest deliberation, as in going back and forth, giving and taking until something is hammered out that will benefit the nation.
We’re optimists, but we’re not naïve.
We won’t be holding our breath.
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