Ironically today, two topics seemed to dominate my immediate listening area: The Fiscal Cliff… And the $500 million Powerball drawing coming up. It is ironic in that both, quite frankly, are (1) crazy to imagine getting ourselves into; and (2) ruled by promises of how best to save and spend what’s allegedly there.
But this fiscal cliff – slope, hill, partial decline, or however else you’d like to grade it- makes me think about our government, our leaders, our political parties, and our policies as a nation.
Couple of disclaimers: I am a progressive in most defined senses of the word, but would most rather be consider a moderate Democrat, if I could brand that way. I am for government, and I believe that it is government that can only do certain aspects of a modern society to make things work in a land so large, diverse, technologically driven, and socially stratified. Also, I believe in the free market and capitalism; and I see no reason both can’t co-exist together…in fact both benefit in a kind of symbiotic relationship.
The fiscal cliff we face is daunting, predictable, man-made, and telling about our government all at the same time. This is a tick, tick, ticking countdown of our political leaders’ doing..nothing.
And not so shocking is the fact that it could – and should – have been averted. Many times over.
The absolute brilliance of our democracy is its inherent foundation it is build upon: Compromise.
Compromise is the stuff that holds up all what the Founding Father worked out in a hot, sweaty bunch of closed door sessions back in the days of powdered wigs and knee-high britches. Our ancestors knew that this government, in order to succeed, must embrace and celebrate compromise. That would be the ultimate legacy past down from the years to present day.
And our boys and girls decided that wasn’t fun enough, so they took their toys and went their proverbial Cloak Rooms.
Should it surprise us? Of course it doesn’t. When you hear the Minority Leader in the US Senate (sometimes referred to as “the world’s most deliberative body”) promise to make a sitting President a “one-term President” does anyone really become shocked at the notion of the two sides not getting along?
But this isn’t going to be about politics….this is about policy. Like the great Erza Klein of The Washington Post wrote in The WonkBlog, “The fiscal cliff is an inapt metaphor for the looming consequence of some very bad Congressional decisions.” Read it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/27/absolutely-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-fiscal-cliff-in-one-faq/
This cliff has something about it that we all, collectively, should keep in mind: We need statesmen. We need stateswomen. We need politicians who see their role as what the Founders intended them to be.. Keepers of the overarching best interest of the COUNTRY in mind first…not party.
Too idealistic? Maybe. But let’s look at what history has shown. Even the greatest of politically charged leaders bent their party roles to best be a steward of the nation’s interest. Thomas Jefferson, the larger-than-life political philosopher, thinker, statesman, and leaders was so cautious and skeptical about a national government (as the Tea Party often tried to usurp and commandeer for their own purposes)… That he in practical secrecy and minimal congressional oversight DOUBLED the size of the country through the Louisiana Purchase…and purchase by the way surveyed and prepared by an expedition paid for by the federal government in total secret (yep, Louis & Clark… America’s First Super Secret Agents). And he was KNEE DEEP in some of the most awful, degrading, and callous kind of mudslinging… ever. But Jefferson knew, knew with all his instincts of statesmanship, that this was essential, important, and historic.
We aren’t looking for history here (or say, parts of Canada to buy secretly). We’re just looking to sit in a room, and compromise over our country’s budget and credit card.
Let’s change our “obstructed viewing” seats to the big bout, Donkeys v. Elephants. Why don’t instead of reluctantly buying the same crappy seats for a fight we don’t like, want, or understand… Why don’t we call over the fight promoter and say “we’re done here… Do you have something more in, say, a professional chess match? Hell, we’ll take a new reality show “America’s Got [Fiscal] Talent” where politicians have to at least perform well to move on to the Finals. Now, all the sucky ones still get to play in the championship round.
Because the politicos and political class among us “expect” us to just grin and bear it. They know our apathy coupled with great, battle sounding sound bites on cable news (straight into our hand-made echo chambers we live in) keep us all just sitting there…. not attentive to change, but happy with complacency. Forgetting about that whole “statesmanship” thing, and really ignoring that what-da-ya-call-it “compromise” thing.
So let’s do something radical. Forget your registered party for a second. Ignore your blind allegiance to Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow. Skip over that frustration with Congress as a single entity (single digit approval rating, boys…. Nice work outa you.), or your lovey-dovey feelings about your hometown Congressperson.
Just call your US House Representative and your two US Senators and say, “Compromise.”
US House: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
US Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Remind them that compromise is not a bad word, it won’t get them in trouble back home, and their working with the opposition won’t get them a loss in the next election. Ask them to remember the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence, but don’t live in sound bites surrounding them. Deals are needed. Alternatives to hard line party talking points are required. Less media “stand ups” and press conferences badgering the “other side” or “our friends” would be appreciated… And work can be focused on, well, WORK.
A month and change until January 1… and the problems get more and more real.
Calling All Statesmen. Calling All Statesmen. We are on the lookout for you….now.
“The art of Statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence.” ~Charles Maurice de Talleyrand