By Gene Hall
For only the third time since Mike and I began this blog, I feel compelled to let you know the opinion you are about to read is mine and mine alone.
I’ve been working for Texas’ farm and ranch families for 35 years. I’ve watched the development of six farm bills. Some bitter fights ensued, but they were always considered “bipartisan.” Both liberal and conservative members of Congress could point to achievements in our national farm policy. Farmers were protected from awesome risks. The hungry were fed with food stamps in the bill. All consumers benefited from affordable food.
For a time, a pair of Texans—Democrat Charles Stenholm and Republican Larry Combest—guided the farm bill through Congress. They realized that farm legislation was good for jobs, good for farmers, especially good for consumers and for the nation itself. Now we only have bitter evidence, in the vote in the U.S. House against a new farm bill, that nothing in Washington is bipartisan these days.
We have the increasingly nasty Heritage Foundation—a very conservative think tank—attacking Republicans for voting for the farm bill. They are attacking people who would probably vote with them 80 percent of the time. My own Congressman, Republican Bill Flores of College Station, was slammed in this way. I want you all to know that in all the years I’ve been voting, I’ve never been more proud of anyone who represented me. It was not only an important vote, but a courageous one.
On a wide range of issues, from the farm bill to immigration reform and sequester to defense, there do not seem to be any issues on which we can find consensus. My own personal awareness of the depths of our political dysfunction came recently when a friend of mine told me, “Don’t ask me to compromise with evil.”
What? These are not Al Qaeda terrorists. They are our countrymen. I count both liberals and conservatives among my friends. I’ll leave you guessing as to the source.
As a professional communicator not unfamiliar with politics, I am astonished at the number of people on both sides of all these issues who believe they can have everything their way, 100 percent of the time. Most of us gave up on that when we turned three.
I know only this: Our nation is governed “by the people” because we’ve always been able to forge a consensus, not that one faction would be right all the time. If we can’t figure that out again, we are in serious trouble. It’s time for a national “time out.”