WANTED: Small-minded narrowly-interested ideologues holding old Uncle Sam hostage. Perpetrators last spotted dragging Sam, limp but not resisting, into a cloakroom on Capitol Hill. Sam’s family — many of whom are unemployed and living with relatives because they lost their homes in the early part of the crisis that led to Sam’s capture — exhausted themselves with worry over the potential cancellation of the football season (mercifully, that crisis is over!). They can only muster enough energy to Twitter their anguish, but they’re satisfied that Sam is surrounded by people who claim to have his best interests at heart. Sam’s family has faith that someone in authority will rescue Sam eventually, they always have before…
Theatre of the absurd. What else can we say about the shameful exhibition of political irresponsibility playing out on the national stage today? A small group of self-interested politicians in Congress have taken the nation hostage, blockading all rational solutions to the debt-ceiling negotiations because of their own electoral interests.
Leadership is the art of compromise, and good governance can only occur when that art is practiced continuously. In this vast democracy with so many disparate interests clamoring for primacy, we must have national leaders who have at least a vague grasp of the fact that, at some point, everyone must give a little in order to keep the engines of government running. Some members of Congress, however, seem to think that they were sent to Washington to pour sand on the gears. The last election brought enough sand-pouring ideologues to Capitol Hill to pose a real threat to rational and effective governance.
Fringe ideologies eventually degrade into anarchy, and in fact, they may create anarchy in order to thrive. Even now, some politicians are saying that they will happily continue to block the debt-ceiling-deficit-reduction legislation even if it means global economic catastrophe.
I certainly believe that the vast majority of citizens in this nation, as well as the vast majority of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, want an effective solution to this crisis. So, why are we standing by while the radical fringe dictates our future?
We the People must speak louder and more forcefully — football season is still weeks away, so could we please pay attention to More Important Things?
We must demand that leaders in Congress set aside their concerns about their own re-election to focus on the reason why they were sent to Congress to begin with — to govern responsibly, to create effective and lasting laws and policies that will serve our nation well.
We must also demand that the President use his authority more forcefully and effectively. Speeches are not enough, nor is waiting for the radical fringe to come to the table likely to occur. It’s time to come up with a plan that can win legislative approval, even if that means risking approval in the party and polls. Sometimes, a politician must sacrifice popularity in order to do what’s right.
Liberating Uncle Sam may come at a political cost on both sides of the aisle. That’s as it should be. No one should win re-election who is a party to Sam’s kidnapping.
See this great piece by Arianna Huffington on the Debt-Ceiling Impasse