Why debate big versus small government? Why not argue for good government?
By Jim Kempton
The “sequester” is upon us. If you believe most of the experts it is as idiotic a way to trim the deficit as anything you could dream up. “This fiscal fandango is an immense embarrassment,” says conservative American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein. “It is cringe-worthy’—the fact that we are going to have another disastrous confrontation over spending, with the radical right wing of the House Republicans determined to send us over the edge if they don’t get their way, is actually frightening.”
Back in the ’60s we had political nut cases much like we do today. Huey Newton’s Black Panthers, Russell Means’s American Indian Movement, Jerry Rubin’s Yippies and the Weather Underground were all hair-brained extremists who sought to sow dissent and dismantle the government. But today the people who are talking about dismantling the government and talking extreme positions are actually members of Congress. Instead of being fringe fanatics making loud noises and inciting violence, they are now responsible for running the country.
We used to have great GOP leaders like Bob Dole, Howard Baker and Jacob Javits. The last of those great Republican senators, Olympia Snowe, just retired. And with her an era of bi-lateral cooperation and reasoned debate.
Both houses of the current Congress have the lowest public approval ratings in American history. The next four years must bring leaders who will work to solve our problems or this disapproval will widen even further.
As a nation, as a society, as a government and as a political belief system, we need to stop this uncompromising adherence to extreme positions and move towards the middle. Because it doesn’t matter what side of the double line we are on, if we don’t stay close to the middle of the road we risk crashing into the ditch.
The men and women who are senators today, and those who will join them in 2015, have it in their power to begin making the Senate great again. They have the enormous honor and privilege of leading the global village and making America a beacon of the free world once more. I hope they will look at the problems facing this great nation of ours, and seek to achieve lasting accomplishment, rather than obstructing their rivals.
I dream of the day when those who run for office dedicate their lives to building our government up rather than tearing it down. I long for men and women who are intent on making the House truly representative—and the Senate something other than a field of filibusters. I look forward to the day when instead of smiting their opposition, our politicians cooperate to solve the urgent needs of our country. And if our local leaders are listening, we should ask them to always do the same.
Jim Kempton still believes in the greatness and the goodness of the American people and our government. He supports Steve Long’s vision that our disagreements should be discussed with rational, contemporary, intellectual, dialogue.