I grew up as the middle brother of three while my mom worked ungodly 12-hour shifts as an ER and pediatric nurse. That meant me and my brothers, one older and one younger, spent a lot of time by ourselves. And you can imagine that we found ways to entertain each other. For the most part, we were able to stay out of trouble. I think I was the one between the three of us that got in trouble the most which isn’t saying much. We all had a healthy fear of Mom because she demonstrated on a few occasions that “crazy” was just one idiotic decision away from showing itself…and let’s just say “crazy” wasn’t pretty. To be clear, Mom=pretty; crazy=not pretty.
I know Mom spent many nights on her knees praying for her boys. That, and my older brother, kept us out of a lot of trouble. Kalvin was the constant male influence/older brother/imagined antagonist that looked out for us when we didn’t know better. I gave him a lot of grief and made things hard on him at times because I resented what I perceived to be his status. He got to do things and go places which made me envious. What I didn’t realize until later was the pressure and responsibility he had to bear by virtue of our home situation. He couldn’t just be a kid…he had to be the responsible one most of the time because of Mom’s work schedule. He was the de facto adult in the room.
As I watch the debt ceiling fight unfold, it’s remarkable to see the gamesmanship going on both sides of the political aisle. There’s a lot of posturing, positioning and demagoguery taking place while the rest of us try to press on with our lives knowing a boulder is hanging overhead, much like the one in the Nationwide Insurance commercial. That proverbial boulder would be the $14 trillion debt monster that’s been amassed through reckless, irresponsible spending. And instead of treating this with the gravity it deserves, we get this kabuki theater of sorts. Being someone who thoroughly enjoys both games and theater, this is a time for neither.
Congressional Republicans resemble the keystone cops by presenting plans that compete with each other. Democrats have produced a lot of hot air. They’ve controlled both houses of Congress in addition to the Presidency and managed to not pass a budget in over 800 days. Leading by example is President Obama who seems to add even more dimension to the term “weakness” with each television appearance. While taking a condescendingly professorial tone, he blamed Congress for running up the “credit card”, offered no plan of his own AND threatened to veto any budget plan that came to his desk which contained a short-term raising of the debt limit. If there was ever a time to exhibit leadership, it’s now. But ever the class-warmonger, he’s been spending considerable time making the case that if we would just pin higher taxes on corporate jet owners and hedge fund managers, we could pull out of this financial mess we’re in. He manages to say all of this with a straight face while NEVER addressing the fact that almost 50% of Americans don’t pay taxes. It’s odd because I remember him saying something about shared sacrifice. Hmm.
If there was ever an example that showed the desperate need for principled leadership, this is it. We have a lot of unserious wannabe adults playing games during a time that requires someone with a steady hand and the ability to lead the discussion in a way that builds consensus. The answer to our debt problem isn’t safely locked away in the brain of some ivory tower elite or entrenched career politician, neither of which has much to do with the real world that the rest of us inhabit. Answers to problems like this are meted out in very common places…like the kitchen table. Whatever resolution is hashed out between the President and Congress will have less to do with what’s truly good for the American people and more to do with political calculus. Given the nature of the very people in charge of coming up with the solution to a problem of this magnitude, how could we reasonably expect otherwise?
I believe Americans are hungry for someone from the outside who can truly effect change that’s rooted in the world most of us live in, the REAL one. We don’t need someone who passes blame elsewhere and uses it as an excuse to continue pushing policies that have their basis in liberal academia. Instead we need someone who leads the effort of creating policy that really works, yes even the exhaustive work of vetting it from every possible angle to ensure it achieves the desired result. We need someone that truly understands the importance of transparency when it comes to crafting legislation that affects all of us. We need someone who knows that there has to be a clear line of division between business interests and governance. We need someone who actually has done the work of balancing a substantial budget and knows what it means to make cuts based on priorities even if they are unpopular. We need someone who understands the gravity of spending other people’s hard-earned money and takes the veto pen to paper to cut programs that aren’t worthy to be supported. In short, we need someone who knows the difference between sleeping well and eating well and chooses the former consciously.
The pre-pubescents occupying the halls of government are dreading August and September. They know that it is going to signal the ending of their schoolyard reign because a certain adult outsider will announce her intentions to run for the Presidency of the United States. Of course the “kids” won’t like it…they’ll resent her for her adult ways and thoughts. Should they be fortunate enough to have the scales fall from their eyes, they’ll grow to admire and appreciate her for being the adult that gave them the direction they needed.
Time and perspective have given me a lot of admiration for my older brother. His adult influence was a lifeboat for me. Sarah Palin will be the same for this country.
“A ship in harbor is safe but that’s not why the ship is built.”