When I wrote this, we were within scant moments of going over the proverbial fiscal cliff. Something has happened since then, one way or the other. It is what it is. This blog isn’t about the fiscal cliff; it’s about Washington DC falling off the common sense cliff. Sadly, it’s a much deeper fall for the American public.
I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. The government has to pick sides. On one side is the Republicans, and the other is the Democrats. Each side has their ideas. Factions of each side have a more stringent view of the ideas than others who might call themselves one or the other. That makes for three sub-groups: progressives, conservatives and moderates. (There are other sub-groups, but I’m already over my head, so I’ll stop here). Each one of these sub-groups share the title of “ideologue,” which is code for “really a stubborn lot.”
Research indicates that these “ideologues” have their heroes: Ronald Reagan on the conservative, republican side of the aisle, and William Clinton on the progressive, democrat side of the aisle. Each one of these presidents is considered by their respective parties as superstars – hold that thought.
Fast forward to today. The political cat fight has become our problem, and has been framed by most in the media as little more than those on the right (conservatives who don’t want taxes raised), and those on the left (progressives who don’t want to make spending cuts). Between them lies an abyss that only seems to widen, not close. Even Evil Knievel couldn’t connect the two sides with a rocket launch. The ideologues would argue over which side to build the ramp and which side to land. UGH!
Back to the superstars of both parties: Clinton and Reagan. The “ideologues” may want to take notice. To those on the right, President Reagan raised taxes when deficits widened. Oh, yes he did. He cut taxes in the ‘80s, though later on undid some of those cuts. And for those on the left, your esteemed President Clinton, in his 1996 State of the Union, declared that “The era of big government is over.” President Clinton raised taxes, cut spending, and left office with a federal surplus.
I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re on, a surplus would sure be sweet right about now. Am I to presume that both these men put some bits of their ideology aside for fiscal restraint and responsibility?
I’m sure there are throngs of people who make their living debating common sense who would say that I am too simple-minded and could spend hours arguing the “means” of Clinton’s and Reagan’s decisions. I’m not into the “means.” I’m an “end” guy and, in the end, both of these idols of the ideologues got it done through a common sense approach.
As best I can tell, they need to do what every other serious negotiation does after complete failure to reach a compromise – hire a mediator. Put the obstinate factions in different rooms and have the federal government’s mediator ping-pong back & forth until a decision is reached. Eat some day-old sandwiches and drink some cold coffee – that’ll move you to a conclusion.
I think we all know what needs to be done: raise taxes and cut spending. Seems like a solution rooted in common sense. The same thing has happened at my kitchen table. There was a time when Mrs. Adams and I needed to cut expenses and get part-time work. Sound familiar?
The Fiscal Cliff aside, common sense among ideologues needs to move toward one another. Everyone is arguing over how much of a raise and how deep of a cut. I get that. We must find the right balance. That happened at my kitchen table, as well. But for just a moment, if everyone would think about what’s good for everybody rather than who’s zooming whom, we could move this issue to a place that is the beginning point of a long-term, positive correction.
Too simple? Probably, but the future of our country needs compromise. For the sake of our kids and grandkids, now please.