It is becoming increasingly difficult to approach anything happening in Washington (or Austin for that matter) with reason or common sense. Before I dive into what was happening there, I should go into some detail as to what was happening at home.
Obviously, I won’t give absolute specifics, but my wife works for one of the government contractors. The civil servants will get back pay for the approximate three weeks that they lost when they were furloughed. Some of the contractors were also furloughed because their work was considered non-essential. This happened throughout what I would term the private-public sector. This included defense contractors and the like.
Many of them are not getting back pay for the time they were off. My wife came within 24 hours of having the same happen to her. I suppose we were lucky and thank our lucky stars. However, when I look at the agreement that finally came down the pike I can’t help but wonder what all of that drama was for. It’s similar to some of my seventh graders that love to hoot and holler in the hall only to have nothing happen. What is the point?
In this case, the point is that some people lost about three weeks of pay and benefits. Some people didn’t get crucial services they needed in that span of time. Now, if any kind of agreement beyond kicking the can down the road could have been made then at least we would have that. One side may have rejoiced while the other would have complained, but at least there would have been something.
Heck, if I knew that both sides would immediately get to work on a new agreement I would be somewhat satisfied. Yet, we know that is not going to happen. We all know better. We know that both sides will hem and haw until around late January or early February and then do some kind of mad dash until they can pass another continuing resolution. Congratulations, they’ll kick the can towards May or June. Randy Bullock could do that job.
If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t mentioned any names or parties at this point. Name calling accomplishes nothing at this point. In times like this, I juggle two different concepts in my mind. The first is Tip O’Neill’s famous quote that “all politics is local.” That would seem to be comforting right now considering the mess happening in Washington.
However, the second is the fact that voters have been complaining about the bums in Washington for more than a century. You commonly see polls done where Congress’ approval rating is in the toilet, but the same bums keep going back. The reason is because the standard thinking is that everyone in Congress is a bum except for my guy. So, we vote our guy back in and as long as most people do that then there is little change.
So, if we combine the O”Neill quote with the last fact we get the key to the solution. Whether you be Democrat. Republican, or independent you need only ask one question before casting your ballot in the 2014 midterm elections: was my representative a part of the problem or part of the solution in Washington?
As O’Neill intimated, the problem is local. Most voters (on both sides) are sheep. They get stuck in one of two mindsets. Either they vote for their party all the way down the line or they get caught into a “vote the bums out” kind of mentality. Not everyone in Washington is a bum and I include members of both parties in that statement. The question is not whether they are all bums but whether your particular representative is a bum.
In my case, he absolutely is. I got lucky enough to move into Steve Stockman’s district. When you look up jackass in the dictionary you see his picture in there. Yet, I used to live in Pete Olsen’s district and even though both are Republicans, I don’t put Olsen in the jackass category. He seemed to fight for our interests locally and that is all you can really ask. Thus, I give you a perfect example of how looking at things from a strictly partisan perspective can allow us to miss the boat.
My sincere hope is that if voters can carry that message into the voters box in 2014 then we might have a much better presidential race in 2016. Governing is about doing the people’s business. When that business shuts down we all lose. It is high time we had more adults in Washington that understood that governing is about coming to common ground. Again, you’ll notice I didn’t mention any political party or individual in that statement.