American at a Crossroads: Comments

Last month I posted a commentary asking you to respond to recent events in Washington. I asked you to tell me your thoughts; what you believed leaders in Washington should do; more importantly, what together we can all do.

One reader shared, “We are all exasperated to the point of exploding at this reductive and ideological stance taken by Congress, particularly the so-called ‘Tea Party.’ I appreciated your connecting the dots to their ‘win at any cost’ attitudes to those of the Wall Street operators who unethically packaged and sold junky debt posing as viable investments.”

While I cited a “… CBS News/New York Times poll that finds ‘82 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job,’ ” one reader asked, “just who makes up the 18 percent [that approve of Congress]?”

“We need actual politicians, who are in FACT servants of the people,” another wrote. “This will not take place as the Game has transitioned into one ENTIRELY run by money… Promises are made and/or broken with retention of power in mind, and not the actual fixing of anything… my remedy: VOTE EVERYONE OUT THAT YOU CAN IN EVERY ELECTION FOR AT LEAST A YEAR. Once politicians realize that their livelihood is under attack by ‘We the People,’ they’ll have to come around.”

Regarding the debt, another wrote, “It is the single most dangerous issue facing the country because it is unsustainable and destructive of growth. Just the interest on the debt is unimaginably high, let alone the sheer amount of it. It is a deadly legacy that we are leaving for our progeny… a debate about HOW we spend our limited resources is critical. This is where compromise must take place. Nobody is all correct or all wrong – it’s simply a matter of setting priorities. Do we spend on infrastructure, training, Medicare and Medicaid, social security, the military… These are the great questions… where our legislature is really letting us down.”

One reader likened the current state of Washington to a dysfunctional household of out-of-control kids. “While a six year old is having a screaming match with his younger sister, and their mom comes into the room and takes his sister out of the room, he yells, ‘I win!’ Such is the nature of the people we are watching in our political landscape. Meanwhile, Dad is out there trying to find a job before their house gets repossessed.”

Another reader’s solution calls for “…many of us [to] move to communities with intransigent members of the House of Representatives, to vote for change as well as to contribute to campaigns of those whose thought process is more reasoned.”

An interesting solution that would, however, add to the already bloated unemployment numbers.

One thoughtful Seattle reader pointed out that “It is difficult to know what we, the average citizen, can do in the next few months, to have any meaningful influence on resolving the various extreme impasses in Washington… one thing we could do is identify the few rational, reasonable members of Congress and actively support and praise them (phone calls, emails, etc.). While the majority in Congress seem unable to provide constructive leadership, there are a few like Senator Dick Durbin and a bi-partisan group of Senators, (known as the Gang of Six), who since January have worked to craft a proposal to cut the nation s debt by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

“Durbin and others also served on the President’s Bipartisan Fiscal Commission and have put forth a debt reduction proposal. These individuals have taken the time to look at the whole debt problem in depth and have come up with thoughtful, balanced proposals to take on this serious, very crucial problem that threatens our country’s reputation and fiscal well being. I do not like or agree with all of the ideas from these people, but I respect their commitment to rise above the ideological rhetoric and destructive politics that is currently demoralizing me and the rest of the country.”

Then there was this big-picture insight submitted by a reader from Texas.

“As tired as I am of hearing the American people this and the American people that, non-stop from both Democrats and Republicans, I believe the American people exhibit several qualities that are not at all evident anywhere in Washington today.

“When I say the American people, I mean the hard-working, thoughtful, patriotic, generous, open-minded and fundamentally ethical men and women who occupy the center of the political spectrum. To judge by media accounts, people like this do not exist in the country today. Instead, we seem to be nothing but a nation of stubborn, inflexible demagogues, ideologically unable to act in the best interests of America as a whole rather than for our own selfish, extremist ends. In the recent debt crisis debacle, both parties proved their willingness to ruin the country rather than sensibly compromise. On the GOP side, an additional factor seems to be such visceral hatred for the black man in the White House that its members will do anything to bring the President down, and to hell with the country in the process…

“The radicals make the news, and extremists have hijacked many of the debates on national issues, but I don t believe they represent the core values of America; and I don’t t think they stand for the kind of country most Americans want to live in.

“If that’s true, then what the vast, silent majority in the center needs to do most of all, is vote! Low voter turnout in American elections is a national embarrassment. Those who can’t be bothered to go to the polls not only abrogate their societal responsibilities as citizens; they also disregard their ethicalresponsibilities to help stem the country’s plunge down the slippery slope of ideological extremism.”

If all of the above individuals represented us in Washington, I have no doubt more well-reasoned solutions that represent the best interests of all of us would not only come about but be embraced by the majority of Americans.


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