Monday, August 1, 2011

Losers/Winners in the Recent Debt Ceiling Battle

A very relaxing and enjoyable vacation last week. On the way home, I felt a bit sick to my stomach. It is not uncommon for me to experience a wave of nausea as my body reacts to my brain's thinking that vacation is over, what didn't I do, and how long will it seem before next year. The feeling seems especially acute when adding in the fact that there will now be many a morning in a row when I will arise at 3:00 AM as opposed to the schedule of the past week.

Amazingly, though, my first day back, Saturday, felt pretty good. I might even go so far as to say I felt happy cruising the area with my latest audio book on the radio, the windows down and the streets deserted. No problems waking up, no excess sleepiness at work. I continue to be surprised by my reactions to life's events.

As it appears that the debt discussion talks have resulted in some type of compromise, I expect there will be many a pundit telling us who won this battle of wills between the president and GOP congressmen. I don't know the exact details of the deal, but I won't let that stop me from proclaiming my own winners/losers.


All those involved in the discussion. From the president on down to every individual senator and congressmen, they all proved themselves to be more interested in being elected than governing. At one point during my vacation, I envisioned a class action suit in the name of all Americans who may have (and still might) find higher interest rates when borrowing in the near future. The defendants would be above mentioned elected officials. I also thought that perhaps a (recall them all) website might be in order to begin a nationwide recall/impeachment of the lot.

Every concerned citizen in America. Rather than a serious debate about the problems facing us, we were left with one finger-pointing-diatribe after another. By "walking out" of discussions rather than working through differences. By grandstanding, by sound bites designed to scare rather than educate, by our elected officials doing everything to distance themselves from blame but not nearly enough to create a plan to address our problems.

Every apathetic citizen in America. As opposed to those described above, and despite the seriousness of the past month's debt ceiling/deficit debate, there were still many people who did not follow the progress (or lack of it). They had given up on our Washington representatives, given up on our political system sometime in the past. It is a shame that they don't realize that giving up, saying that one vote doesn't matter, proclaiming that "they are all the same", is as significant a factor in the current state of politics as the extremism that seems to have become the only opinions being expressed in our media. Apathy is not a pretty thing.

Our great system of governance. Perhaps the biggest loser of all. For all the talk about how awesome our founding fathers were in designing our system with its three branches of government, we find ourselves, amazingly, considering the horrible instances of the past that chipped away at our trust of government (see Watergate, run-up to the Iraq War, abuse of power, scandals, etc), facing a new low in respect by our citizens for our leaders. Approval ratings are in the dumper for everyone involved, and expectations that a real plan will emerge from all this jabbering are practically nill.


Sorry, I can't think of any.

What is truly disconcerting is that for all the whining and complaining and unhappiness we express at our elected leaders, we are barely achieving a 50% turnout for the big elections, 33%, or less for the rest. We are getting the government we deserve by allowing small blocks of voters with specific agendas choose representatives with limited perspectives on how to solve problems. With votes based on litmus tests, whether the test be about abortion or war or gay marriage or social security, we elect people who do not have the information, or desire, to extend their knowledge to the vast array of issues facing America today. So they vote as a block as their party dictates. No vision.

But then again, perhaps they only reflect their constituents.

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