Beyond the Shutdown

Supposedly they’ll vote at noon today whether to stop our current government shutdown. Since it started there has been a side of me that wishes everyone who will not get paid as a result of the action (or inaction)….including our military….would refuse to do their jobs. OK, the childish petty side of me, I don’t  really believe that or want that…..I know we need them and it would put our country in chaos…and danger. I appreciate that they understand that and have a commitment that supersedes their salary.  But when you have a government insensitive to the needs of you and your family, the temptation has to be great to really let them see the significance of their actions.

I’m not being partisan here. I follow no party. In fact this once again demonstrates to me what I feel is disgusting about our political system. It’s on the level of junior high drama…are you in the popular crowd or not? The gang mentality supersedes the individual responsibility. Good parents do not let their children slide when they do something because of peer pressure. Why do we allow it in our government?

Looking at the numbers, no party is blameless.  NY Times List of How They Voted  But truly I don’t care about that. Let’s throw the party out of it all. I hold each individual responsible. I could not care less about what party they are in. They get one vote….they have full responsibility for that vote. If the other members of their party jumped off a cliff, would they follow? (The questions of childhood stay with us forever, because silly as they sound they still ring true.) Yes, many obviously would.

I’m tired of people bringing up the idiotic statement of Trump from the past that the president is responsible. I don’t believe our president is that powerful. Any president. Those kinds of statements deflect from the truth and probably give this one person more power. They don’t recognize the checks and balances of our system. They don’t recognize the big picture.  If our government was run by leaders who put people before politics or their own self interests, who represented all of the people of our country instead of their particular self interests, they would work more for small focused changes that make a difference instead of big bulky bills most of them haven’t grasped or understood when they voted for them. They’d get more done, with much less chaos. They’d take one issue at a time and really let people see what they believe.

I don’t know about you, but my eyes were rolling back in my head this weekend each time I saw a Senator make a huge public spectacle of writing a letter refusing their salaries, because of course they are exempt (as they are almost always) from the impact of the laws they pass. Some of my friends appeared very moved by this. Not me. I agree they should not get those salaries. Write your letter and send it, but instead of having time for a press conference or public relations campaign to gain accolades, spend your time working for solutions that will impact those who have no choice about what will be done with their salary. And in the future, make sure you are never exempt from a law that is passed for the people. Leaders should be the first in line to take the action they are suggesting for others.

I’ve followed the Facebook posts of friends who are “non-essential” government employees. They’re confused as to what it all means for them, even those who have been through this before.  I hate they are dealing with such instability. In a world where many live paycheck to paycheck, I am sorry this has given them extra stress.

Working in corporate America, there doesn’t seem to be a choice as to when our budgets are final. My company has never had a shutdown in the 12 years I have been there….they make their decisions and the budget is final.  Not everyone agrees with it, but it is what it is. I don’t work with budgets now and only see the outward impacts, not the inner dialogue. I do know that usually their most important audience are the stockholders and decisions are often made to make them happy. I don’t always agree with this, but I understand it and understand the whys behind it.

Who are the stockholders of our country? I think it should be our citizens, all of our citizens. Too often it is the campaign contributors. Too often it is a very small group of people just like them. Too often it is their friends, who they socialize with at cocktail parties or on the golf course. Too often it is the members of their political party, those with the power to make the party decision. The ‘popular crowd.” Too often they forget they are working for “we, the people.” Too often it is because we have let them, have continued to elect them, and have not held them to a standard befitting a member of Congress of the United States of America,

Like many I have grown to hate politics. I hate that immigration and the handling of illegal aliens (a critically important subject itself), is used as leverage to pass, or not pass, a budget (way past the “deadline”). I hate that we elect people who don’t represent many of us….who often are people who have no ideas of the struggles of the common man. Who have never been to a grocery store, or laundromat, or checked a book out of the public library. Who never had to stick to a personal budget. People who would rather grandstand than compromise.

When it gets down to it, we the people are responsible. We elected these folks. Both parties. Casting our votes or failing to cast our votes. Participating in the system or failing to participate in the system. Believing the voice of a political party rather than making our judgments based on each candidate, each issue, one at a time. Getting our idea of who a particular candidate is from media rather than trying to actually get at the truth of who they are. Which yes….I believe may be almost impossible.

Years back I failed to vote for a particular candidate because they wore a bad toupee. My thought process was that anyone who had poor judgment in that area, would have poor judgment in making decisions in political office. Afterward I got to know this person and I learned they were intelligent, compassionate, knowledgeable, and cared about our community. I wish I could say that was the only time I made such a shallow judgment, but it is not. It has taught me to try to get to know the person behind the candidacy. That’s a tough thing to do, I have found. Often I am voting for a bio or from the   judgment of a journalist whose eyes may see things differently than mine. Neither usually give me a true judgment of that person’s true character. But we need to learn to look for the character, to look beyond parties and to people. We need to hold those we elect accountable. We need to look out for our communities and our country, and all the people who make them up, rather than only our own self interests

I know I vote differently than most. I sometimes vote for candidates that don’t share my views. A weird concept to many, I know. But I want good strong points of view debating issues. I want different types of people represented. To me that is how democracy works best. I have no illusions that we are at a place where they do this well at the moment, but I believe it is a step to get us tgere.

While I am frustrated rught now with most things political, I have hope. I talk with younger friends and many have a better handle on debate and reaching consensus than my contemporaries. I hope they do not become jaded.

We the people are the power. Not the president, not the Congress. We can stop this foolishness. Why don’t we stop the name calling and the childlike meme wars, why don’t we stop supporting politicians who don’t take their responsibility seriously, whose actions don’t match their words or votes. Why don’t we stop following the misplaced ideologies of our political parties and think for ourselves? Why don’t we band together and care about each other and fight for all of the things our constitution says it stands for? Why don’t we act as mature leaders and show them how it is done? Why don’t we compromise when it is needed? Why don’t we quit worshipping politicians and media and make decisions that will be an example of how you live unified in a democracy? We can, you know.

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