I am taking a break from my Thanksgiving food posts to make a brief comment on the current political happenings. Today (Nov. 21) the “super committee” confirmed suspicions that it could not find the $1.2 trillion in cuts necessary to prevent massive across-the-board budget cuts. The right blames the left for mandating tax increases and the left blames the right for refusing to introduce new sources of revenue. It’s a he-said, she-said game that resembles the fights found on elementary school playgrounds and in sandboxes across the country.
But are our lawmakers really the ones to blame? Or are we, the voters, holding our Congressional representatives to too stringent of standards? In the last few years, we have conditioned lawmakers to believe that any decision outside of the unrealistic narrow margins of acceptable outcomes will lead to a backlash so strong reelection is no longer an option. They fear siding with the “enemy” will make them the enemy of the voters and lead to the demise of their political career. We have set the steaks so high they they have no option but to walk the tight rope and hold on for dear life.
Our country has become polarized by political views that have pulled the two major political parties to extreme opposites. Voters will not allow their lawmakers to waiver – even if it means walking away with no compromise. Like dogs or children, we have conditioned politicians to believe that we will “punish” them if they move outside party lines. Compromise is not an option. Politics has become a winner take all game that, as we are learning, has no positive outcomes.
What if we all operated in this manner? What if stores only sold merchandise for the amount they deemed acceptable? Customers wouldn’t buy and stores would make sales. Merchandise would remain on the shelves and customers would have to do without. It’s a ridiculous scenario that has led to sales, specials and coupons – a give-and-take that occurs between consumers and retailers and allows everyone to walk away happy. Very few transactions would occur in this country if we refused to compromise and we would find ourselves far worse off than we currently are. We understand the value of compromise, working together and finding middle ground for the good of a larger group. Why do we believe those values have no place in politics?
But the real question remains – will voters learn from this? Will we convey a message of disappointment that the super committee put party lines before the good of the country? Or will we continue to point fingers at the other side and claim they were in the wrong for refusing to budge while they continue to stand firm on their side of the argument? I guess we’ll see. Sadly, I’m not expecting a change of heart any time soon.