Wrong kind of ‘win’

By Frank Wessling

This is written as Republicans and Democrats in the nation’s capital are facing off in a game of chicken over the federal budget. Who will “win” that game is the question of the moment.

It’s a stupid question, a question that only makes sense if gaining political advantage is the most important thing politicians do. If that is why we vote — to send people off for a war with words and pictures instead of bullets and bombs — then democratic politics is a failure.

Fortunately, there are some elected officials who keep their focus on the real needs of the communities they represent and serving those needs in a practical consensus with colleagues doing the same. Honest people working this way in the open are our best hope for a society of the common good. The rest, the noisy partisan bomb throwers, are a hindrance even to basic conversation about our needs.

Each side in this struggle over budget and debt claims that it places people first, but then acts deaf against the people the other side claims to represent. It’s true that people today and in the near future are hurt by cuts in services and failure to promote jobs with good pay. It’s also true, though, that our children and grandchildren will be hurt by the future burden of higher debt.

Each side is right in its way and also wrong when taking an all or nothing stance. The reasonable adults in Washington know that we must adjust our taxing system to generate more revenue and do it in a fairer way. The adults also know that we must take more personal responsibility for our health and welfare. Real politics, once known as the art of the possible, would find a way to move ahead on both of those fronts.

Let’s hope the adults on both sides were the real winners last week and the game of chicken was called off. Otherwise, it might be time to think of a general recall election in hopes that more adults will emerge.

 

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