My Way or Else

…how long do we let ourselves be held hostage by threats before we act anyways…

“And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.”

~Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 04 March 1801

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Putting a problem off does NOT equal a problem solved. Granted, it’s a mistake a lot of people make. When faced with difficult problems that require real answers (which can only be achieved through hard choices and actual compromises) most people would rather kick the can down the road. Congress, however, is not most people. They are our elected representatives. They are there to do exactly that: to make the tough calls and come to the best conclusion for all of our country. Ironically, this Congress in particular seems to be prepared to do anything besides solve our issues. We have faced self-generated crisis after crisis because Congress simply can’t act. Instead, they continue to put band-aids on bullet wounds and wonder why they aren’t healed 3 months later. I’m glad everyone in Washington is patting themselves on the back for ending the government shutdown and averting government default, but it really doesn’t count when you merely push the issue 3 months into the future. And it’s not like anyone believes that the extra time will actually help them resolve the issue. We’ve already been to this show before. Most of us simply expect yet another ridiculous government showdown in 3 months time because hey, that’s how this government rolls. But I’m sure they sleep comfortably at night with the thought that whatever they’re doing is somehow actually preserving the nation so many have fought and died for….or not. They might have missed the memo, but nations that can’t function eventually won’t exist. It’s really that basic.

So why do we tolerate this level of ridiculous bickering? It’s not like the Founding Fathers always agreed. In fact, Jefferson’s election (and the members of Congress elected with him) was a bitterly contested rivalry with John Adams and many of the other original Founders, no less. And they actually were locked in a heated contest over highly principled points that would help shape the future of what our federal government looks like. Let’s just say the stakes and principles in play were a few orders of magnitude higher than a debate over state-supported healthcare in a state that already does a great deal of population-supporting programs. And guess what? When the election was over and the dust settled, they got over their stridency and got to work. No one shut down the entire government to keep making their damn point. Because they figured everyone already knew their stances since, oh I don’t know, they’d just spent an entire election harping on the issue at hand. But maybe that’s because they knew the difference between actual constructive representation of your constituency and downright destroying the entire system for the sake of it. But Congress these days likes to shoot all the hostages and then start to negotiate. And then they wonder why it’s not exactly working.

History is a graveyard full of governments that simply stopped functioning. I, for one, prefer not to add ours to that list.

Res Publica

Documentation without Representation:

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 04 March 1801 (emphasis added by me)

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch4s33.html

Electronic Text Courtesy of The University of Chicago Press

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