Guest post by Roger Caldwell
As we get closer to an election year, I find myself watching politics more closely, and I’m noticing something familiar about the interactions of Congress and the president. There have been several issues lately (the debt ceiling, the jobs crisis, heightened tension in the Middle East) that have given us a great opportunity to see how these great lawmakers, these descendants of the great men who founded this country and bound it together with the very Constitution that our current elected officials now serve, are basically just a bunch of spoiled, bickering children.
Watching the debt ceiling debate, I tried to follow the deep meaning and far-reaching implications of what was being discussed, I really did. But in the end all I heard was “You said there would be tax increases!” “Did not!” “Did, too!” “You said you would cut Medicare and Social Security!” “Did not!” “Did, too!” “If you make me raise taxes I’m going to sick my rich lobbyists on you!” “If you make me cut Social Security, I’m telling the AARP on you!” Specifically, Congress reminded me of two young children close to each other in age. If you imagine that cutting Medicare and Social Security was a “Buzz Lightyear” toy that the Republicans wanted, and tax increases (on the rich) was a “Singing Spongebob” that the Democrats wanted and raising the debt ceiling was bath time—neither child really wanted it, but they knew it was going to happen anyway, so they just tried to milk their dislike of it to get some extra playtime with their favorite toy.
Where does the president fit in? In the debt ceiling debate, I see President Obama as a babysitter, an inexperienced babysitter, maybe only a few years older than the oldest child. He has a favorite, the Democrats, but he tries to be at least appear fair to both because he has a job to do. More importantly, his job involves getting both kids to take that bath (the debt ceiling increase), so he is willing to promise the moon and stars to get them to do it if he has to–he wants the parents to hire him for another night. Maybe a more experienced babysitter would have more tricks to use, more authority to exert pressure, but he does what he can and eventually they get into the bath water, even if it’s an hour past their bedtime and they’re hitting each other with toys while they’re there.
Now the bath is done and the babysitter needs to put the kids to bed—in other words it’s time to put through a jobs creation plan and a formal budget. The babysitter tries to coax both kids by saying “We play 3 minutes with Buzz and 7 minutes with Spongebob, then we go to bed.” The problem is that the Democrats want all ten minutes with tax increases on the rich, I mean Spongebob, and the Republicans want all ten minutes with Buzz (cutting Medicare and Social Security). The Republican child will threaten to stay up all night and not pass a jobs plan if they don’t get what they want and the Democratic child will threaten to tell the parents if they don’t get what they want. In the end, we have to hope that they settle somewhere near 50/50 and everyone gets to bed before midnight.
So who are we in this? You guessed it—we’re the parents. We’ve been out and had a great time and have come home to early to find the kids fighting, the house is a mess, and somebody put a saddle on the dog. Who do we blame? The babysitter? Maybe. They certainly own a share of the blame. The kids? You bet. They’re unruly and taking advantage of the babysitter and we raised them better than that. Or did we? We raised these kids (voted for them, in this case, often for multiple terms). Maybe we failed to give them proper discipline; maybe there should have been some more time outs before it got to this point. Maybe it’s not too late to start. One thing is clear—if we ever want to go out and enjoy ourselves again, we have got to get our house in order.
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