The sun rises slowly in southern Pennsylvania, ushering in a day full of promise and potential. Dawn near my country cottage is not the same call to pulse-raising political warfare as it is in the nation’s capital – where adrenaline starts pumping with the morning headlines. There in the quiet of the countryside, silence and space allows one to ease into the day’s challenges.
From that perspective it is possible to look back at Washington and wonder if the nation’s policymakers really understand what they are doing. This morning, like so many other ones these days, the newspaper has catastrophe written all over it. Our morning read is full of struggle, fight and alarm. Who will be blamed for the sequester? How long will the fight go on? Are you the only Washington organization that has not been hacked by the Chinese? According to reports, any institution or computer of any importance here has been the subject of an attack. (I wonder how many status-conscious Washingtonians would be disappointed to discover that the Chinese didn’t deem them important enough to bother.) And I will not even go into the nuclear tests in North Korea and all the other things happening around the world…
Where are our “leaders” who should be grappling with these delicate and potentially damaging developments? The House of Representatives was in session only eight days in January. And the Senate plans to be together only 194 days the entire year. Between their absences from the city and Obama’s perpetual campaign tours to persuade the population that his opponents are wrong, it is no wonder that nothing gets done. No one is in Washington at the same time. So how could they possibly even talk, let alone reach compromise?
With the impending sequester and a debt ceiling crisis looming, the stress level for many people in this city is palpable. Columnists are wrong if they think the consequences can be contained and that the major impact will be confined to furloughs and lay-offs. Many of us who have some dealings with the federal government can say that the ripple effect has already started. For some time, government agencies have been deferring decisions because of the uncertainty, directly impacting companies that are poised to provide even the most basic of services. Other government entities are cancelling events and other activities out of concern for what they think would be unfavorable “optics.” Many important projects have been shelved, even some that serve the vital interests of this country as we reinvigorate our economy and strive to retain our competitive global edge. The uncertainty that has spawned this anxious withdrawal, and the deterioration of trust that has gone with it, speaks poorly of our elected officials and political parties. This has not happened because the nation is divided. It has happened because we don’t have leadership.
Long walks in the countryside can be physically restorative and mentally reinvigorating. This time of the year, the cold, dry bite in one’s nose sharpens the senses and affirms the glory of being alive. Why are we doing this to ourselves? What are our politicians saving themselves for? Why won’t they spend more of their prestige to find some common-sense solutions that will benefit the country as a whole? These are the kinds of questions that come to mind in the silence and the space of a long unpaved road.
11 thoughts on “The Road Ahead”
Piece I wrote during the Fiscal Cliff debate… http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/courier_times_news/opinion/congress-must-commit-to-a-stable-government-and-economy/article_e11fdc6a-c51d-5219-8aab-387a05e1bd6c.html
March 13, 2013
I have been watching the meetings of the House of Representatives Budget Committee chaired by Paul Ryan. The process was fair.They were voting on the Ryan budget proposal. Many amendments were proposed by Democrats. All amendments except one was defeated by a vote of 22 Republicans against versus 17 Democrats for. The exception was for increased medical spending for Native Americans which was passed unanimously. Maybe our Native Americans are working their way up to the designation of First Peoples which is the designation for Native Americans in Canada .Votes were demanded by all Democratic sponsors of amendments except for Pascrell’s amendment. Many made speeches for and against the amendments but no one was persuaded to change their position. The Democrats can use these votes in the 2014 campaign season. I am not certain that this will be beneficial to them as long as the stock market keeps going up.
Susan, as a native & resident of Gettysburg, I certainly understand & resonate w/your clarity of “silence & space of that long & unpaved road”!!(even though Adams County,PA is THE DEFINITION of the “Alabama of PA”/provincial mindset & Republican to the end of time!!) I have no idea how the “Tea Party” thinks that the 1)”sequester savings” of 85B $, and 2) the consequential LOSS OF 2.154M jobs in the large “ripple effect” of federal spending is moving USA forward!! Returning USA to >9% unemployment in the process. Worst possible time since 1929 to cut federal $$$$. You’re absolutely right Susan, as much as I admire the rhetoric, charisma & elecution of B.O, now’s the time for 1)arm twisting, 2)bruised or broken knee caps, 3)”ball busting” as needed for the direcrtion & salvation of the American experiment as we have all come to appreciate it.
Of course Ms Eisenhower skated around “WHo thought of the sequester in the first place?” and likely touched on “Why does washington have such short work years?”. The most compelling statement she made really was a gentle stroke – The fact – It is becoming a habit for Washington politicians to vacant the city when there is a crisis that needs immediate attention. What do they do to earn our respect and show they support this country? Otherwise it appears she is waking up to the fact our government is broken.
The void of leadership needs to be filled. In KS, a 2.5% to 10% cut in any organization is met with though, compromise, and leadership. Our nation can meet this challenge when the leaders emerge. Welcome back to Kansas. You have expressed our concerns perfectly.
After seeing Senator Domenici chase Gerry Pollet of Heart of America all over the auditorium to find out how much his salary was at the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future meeting at Hanford, nothing surprises me about Domenici anymore.
Stated very nicely and seemingly, very calmly. But are you that calm, even with the pleasure of being out of DC and on a country road? Why didn’t the President call Congress into special session and skip his golf? Why don’t the Chinese hack into the Congressional emails and suggest a solution? Why wasn’t my email hacked? (Reminds me of the people who were disappointed not to be on Nixon’s enemies list. I am just glad i am NOT on the TSA no-fly list!).
To add to my disappointment and sadness is the revelation about Sen Domenici and his child with a good friends daughter. I am glad to be so naive that I am totally shocked and never would have thought this of Pete.
Taking some lines from a Marx brothers movie: We need to add a sanity clause to each legislative bill. But then again, everyone knows there is no Sanity Clause.
You said it ever so well sister!!!!!!!!! (almost too kind in the wake of this non-sense)…but I know what we are all “feeling”…It is a subconscious “disturbance” that silently (but present…) looms inside most everyone…It’s as though we can see and our leaders either choose NOT TO or KNOW something we don’t…either way…You absolutely zoomed right in on it… I need one of those walks myself…Hopefully, soon they will either get an eye exam or make some newly found heart decisions to SERVE their Country. Thank you Susan as always for the NO-Nonsense commentaries. Your fearless, honest, courageous and truthful views, shed so much light at a time when darkness stalks everything that we hold Sacred in our Country… Thank You again,for being WHO you are Susan!
Hugs from the South!
Brilliant! Too bad the DC mafia doesn’t have your perspective.
Here are my thoughts. Vancouver, BC does not have more rain than Seattle and different politics. I recently heard at a book club that people whose parent was born in Canada have an easier time becoming citizens of Canada. My father was both an Canadian immigrant and a Canadian emigrant. I am considering checking to see if that offers me any advantages.