By Gene Hall
I sometimes think politics is like a football game. Winning becomes a goal in and of itself. The good of the nation or even a reasonable political outcome comes in way second to pounding the other guy into submission.
I otherwise have trouble understanding why more than a century of political tradition and compromise are so carelessly tossed away. It seems very clear that both sides in this current debate believe they can have 100 percent of their way. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Flurry, explained very patiently to me why this was not possible. Later, she explained it more “forcefully.” In this manner, I learned to play well with others, one of the most important of life’s lessons.
Ostensibly, this is about the Affordable Care Act, using the debt limit as leverage. But I think it’s all part of a larger problem wrapped around debt, taxes, spending and a no-holds-barred political cage-death match on the future role of government. Clearly, one side wants few if any limits to government. If there is a problem, government is the thing that should solve it. Money is not, or should not be, an object in that view.
The other side wants to take apart some functions of government that have outlived their usefulness, but also to sabotage some reasonable and worthwhile functions of government. “No!” is not automatically the right answer.
Government should do some things, maybe even a lot of things and do them well. Ronald Reagan got that. He compromised his way onto the short list of great presidents. So did Tip O’Neill, the Democrat on the other side of the table.
We have a lot of things shut down now. A lengthy shutdown will hurt us economically, stymie essential services and maybe even hurt our ability to grow our own food and make sure it’s safe.
Maybe we can let the country win. Maybe we can all win a little. It’s not a new idea. We’ve done it before. I’d have Mrs. Flurry explain it. She is however, long gone.