The Dreary National Mood

Maybe Mother Nature decided to match our national mood about the Government Shutdown, because it’s a dreary, wet, cool afternoon in Washington with the prediction for this sort of weather to drag on for days. The sort of malaise this forecast inspires matches the mood of the country as we watch our elected “leaders” posture and pander from a position of rigid self-righteousness while the rest of us can only stand by, helpless to resolve the immediate crisis at hand.


Both sides are at fault here. Nobody is doing their job. To treat the fate of this nation’s economy as a giant game of chicken is abominable. I saw similar behavior for years in California where the budget wouldn’t get passed and during these drawn out periods, the legislators (but nobody else) continued to collect their pay. Everyone suffers but those who make the rules, which is so self-serving it reminds me how far this country (and our culture) has drifted from a time when you didn’t spend more money than you had in the bank and leaders understood that compromise was essential for the nation to move forward.


As a representative of the long-term unemployed, part of me sympathizes with all those furloughed workers, but there’s another part of me that derives a certain amount of validation watching these federal masses confront the anxieties I’ve faced on a daily basis for the past three years. I don’t wish them ill, but nothing builds sympathy faster than experiencing a difficulty yourself. Now, if only we could get Congress to suffer like the rest of us! How about a national ballot initiative permanently docking the pay of legislators and senior executive branch types for each day of budget impasse? Right now, we’re paying them to do a job they aren’t doing—no matter what they claim.


It’s a troubling sign when everything you hear or read in the papers is suspect. My family has an expression to describe this phenomenon: word salad. With word salad, you just toss into the conversation whatever you wish to say, whether or not there’s any truth to it. It doesn’t matter, it’s word salad! And then you move on, acting as if whatever you said before is of no consequence and puzzled as to why your audience is upset or distressed by your previous words. I think we’re all being served up a giant portion of word salad by those in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Word salad on steroids.


While it’s true that there are no simple solutions to an economy and society as complex and big as ours, there are solutions. Rigid ideologues of any flavor are not what we need. We need to elect politically moderate leaders who are willing to make the hard votes necessary to control our out of control spendthrift ways while leveraging the fact that people need help to get back on their feet during such a terrible economy. By the way, except for Wall Street (and we’re all too familiar with the sort of greedy, deceitful behavior occurs there), the economic recession continues! Whatever all this talk is of our being in a recovery—anemic or not—nobody I know talks of the economy in a positive manner. So, why try to present the current state of affairs as a recovery when everyone knows different? Word salad!


OK, so the dreary weather has soured my mood, but so has Capitol Hill. I respect the fact that we may have very different beliefs about if, when, and how to spend the nation’s money, but a refusal to budge, a refusal to negotiate, to compromise, where it’s considered a “victory” if the can simply gets kicked down the road, well, let this be a rallying cry to go out into our communities and find someone better to elect. This is a great nation! We have tremendous natural and human resources available to us—we can do a lot better than the blokes we’ve elected today.


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One Response to “The Dreary National Mood”

  1. letsgolo Says:

    Amen, Rett, amen.

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