Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fighting for Common Ground

I vowed not to go down this road.  I set one foot into the road and some anonymous FB philosopher or blog reader/political analyst will plow into me doing 100mph with the tirade of Tea Party ideology or Obamalover blinders.  I am daring to take the risk for the sake of USA reputation.

Caveat...you are welcome to comment, however, it must be free of personal slander, Ted Kaczinski Unabomber craziness, or mindless sheep following love of all things Obama.  Feel free to comment with some critical thinking and documentation to back up your argument.

Don't make me defriend you....here goes:

The government shutdown in the US is appalling from the most basic premise, the government (including the Executive Branch and the House and the Senate) cannot come together to truly represent the needs of their constituents.  There is no give and take, there is no true representation.  If there were, the government would be operational, the budget would be balanced and Americans would have access to health care.  I am sure all constituents represented by their elected official did not vote for the crazy town of self-serving ideologue currently wasting space on Capitol Hill.  

The USA is making African countries, with varying levels of blatant and covert corruption, poverty and greed, look like Utopia.

America you should be ashamed...no....American politicians you should be ashamed.

I recently read the best book written about what has REALLY happened in our political environment in the US.  It was written by former House and Senate member, Olympia Snowe, from Maine, "Fighting for Common Ground".  Olympia Snowe is a Republican, she is also a collaborator, a truly bipartisan member of politics...or sadly, she was.  Her book is about her heart wrenching decision to leave Washington politics because she felt she could no longer make a difference.  Ms. Snowe is a moderate.  I believe Ms. Snowe actually represents the majority of Americans.  I am neither Democrat or Republican.  I have voted for candidates from both parties over the year.  I vote for the man or woman I believe has the countries best interests at heart.  I do tend to lead more conservative.  I am a personal responsibility fan.  I think there is a place for social programs but I also do not think this is where you camp out for the next 30 years.  I believe in a woman's right to choose but I also believe if you have the choice, you pay for it yourself.  

Ms. Snowe and I would get along fabulously.

From her introduction to her book she recommends the following to getting Congress back to representing us, the people.

"Campaign finance reform, including rolling back Citizens United, is essential to leveling the electoral playing field and eliminating so-called Leadership PACES would help to abate the perpetual fund-raising our lawmakers are engaged in, which is a major distraction from conducting legislative business."

"We will also increase the amount of time members of Congress spend in Washington by instituting five-day workweeks at least three weeks a month, instead of the abbreviated Tuesday to Thursday legislative schedule."

Hmmm....how about that, actually work a full week?  Like the rest of us?

And my personal favorite...

"Permanently mandate that if Congress fails to pass a budget or appropriates bills are not completed, its members don't get paid--simple as that."

Throughout Ms. Snowe's book you see example after example of her relentless efforts to come to a compromise on various legislative issues and being stymied.  One of her most difficult opponents, sadly, my own Senator from Nevada, Harry Reid, a career politician.  I have never voted for him and never will.  Harry Reid, in my opinion, is the antithesis of crazy Tea Party poster child, Sarah Palin.  Read the entire story on page 32 of her book before commenting.

Did I say I was a moderate?

So, how did we get here?  Here meaning our current state of government paralysis.

Remember the Titans is one of my favorite movies.  The other day, in a South African hotel room, it was playing on television.  When I switched it on the scene between the Quarterback, Gerry and his defensive back, Julius played.  Attitude Reflects Leadership, one of the top scenes of any movie.


In the chapter, Health Care and Partisanship, Senator Snowe talks about the evolution of our current Affordable Healthcare Act aka Obamacare.  I agree with Senator Snowe, this is when the tide turned and an irrevocable division was cemented.  She met with President Obama upon his request.  President Obama was trying to garner at least one Republican supporter for his healthcare reform.  

"Throughout the health reform debate, the President worked with me in good faith....By this point, however, I realized the legislation had essentially been preordained and the majority leaderships in the House and Senate were not going to deviate from their comprehensive packages.  Mr. President, I responded, I sincerely appreciate your offer.  But if I couldn't secure changes in the bill now, it's not going to happen when I'm the only Republican in that conference with all the Democratic leaders.  I did suggest that the President call for a kind of legislative "timeout" and reconvene in January, to allow both sides a "cooling-off period" over the upcoming three-week holiday recess and one final opportunity to convene a bipartisan working group.  Ultimately, the President wasn't convinced that would be a fruitful course."

President Obama had the majority, he knew it and he took it without trying to garner bipartisan support.  Ironic when looking at the Titans video.

"Just days before the vote on the final passage, the Senate received a nearly 400 page amendment that could not be changed or altered.  Instead, the Senate majority leadership held votes at 7am, then 1am, then 7am on December 24 to pass the bill before the self-imposed Christmas deadline -- without a single Republican vote.  Not one single member in Congress--Republican or Democrat--could answer whether the newly created health insurance plans would be affordable, yet we hurtled headlong toward a final voted on a monumental bill affecting every American."

"...Ironically, the large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2009-2010--proved to be both a blessing and a curse for the President.  Just because you have the ability to pass something in the Senate with sixty partisan votes doesn't mean it's a good idea to do so....and it's no way to engender bipartisan entreaties from the opposite side on other issues."

The beginning of the end for any bipartisan consensus on any issue in Congress.  

This is not to say Obama is solely at fault.  There are many contributors to our current government shutdown.  However, he did set a precedent which, if he could do it again, perhaps things might have been different during his second term.  Sadly, the us vs. them mentality has spurred the emergence of the Tea Party, which in my opinion, has significantly damaged the Republican Party.  Hey, I'm all for being able to own a gun, I just don't think we need to own 15 AK-47s and another ammo to take down every elementary school in the US.  Stop fighting for stupid thinking in the name ideology.  

We all need to give and take, everyone...we were the greatest country on earth, why are we so divided, divided in class, politics, even race.

The only way things will change is that we, the collected we of the voting American WE, need to put OUR differences aside, come to the Table of Common Good, and vote in change.  Not the Obama, "Hope and Change", the real change, in all areas of government, for the good of all.  My friend Lori Bean, formed the "Latte Coalition", sometime in the last year or so, for all of us "moderates" (she's a left leaning moderate and I'm a RLM and we're still friends).  Maybe all of us moderates need to moderately radicalize some much needed change so we can get back to the business of being a country that could be great again.  Right now, not so much!

When I was in the US, Zulu too was apparently agitated with the idiocy of American politics and government.  We are all feeling the stress of us vs. them.  I think I'll be staying in Rwanda/Africa for a bit longer, but will still proudly vote for the people who really will represent the Common Ground.  Senator Snowe...thanks for fighting the good fight!







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