Op-ed: Blame us for government shutdown

If we don’t like what is happening in Washington — and few do — the blame must be placed squarely where it belongs. It is “we the people” who send these people here.

We send people of different and often opposing viewpoints to Washington and expect them to get along. Many quickly turn opportunities to represent us into opportunities to represent themselves. They become careerists, statists and hypocrites, first supporting one cause or policy when it suits them and then with whiplash intensity turning around and supporting its opposite when it is politically expedient. It is why my favorite lecture circuit laugh line is “I’m happy to be here tonight from Washington, D.C., where the only politicians with convictions are in prison.”

Is that too cynical? Perhaps. There are a few good men and women in Washington, but they are often overtaken by the swamp, which is more like quicksand, dragging everyone down. If re-election and fundraising become primary goals rather than promotion of the general welfare, everything else becomes secondary.

The greatest frustration for voters comes from knowing how a problem can be solved, but then witnessing politicians refusing to solve it because they prefer to retain the issue as a weapon in the next election, and the one after that.

Perhaps a cynic would say that the refusal by Senate Democrats to pass a continuing resolution last week, much less a budget, is a device to turn attention from the great economic successes attributed by many to the Trump administration. But it is not cynical when one has observed how the “game” is played here. And to many it is a game, which serves only those who are playing it, not the rest of us.

The appeals to the “base” on the left and right rob the nation of a real debate on issues and an eventual resolution that benefits the majority. Is gaining and holding political power by a handful of politicians worth the sacrifice of faith in our government? And is this government, whether headed by Democrats or Republicans, what the Founders had in mind? Any high school history student, if taught the facts, must conclude it is not.

The Founders wanted limited government so that the people could be unlimited in pursuing their aspirations, consistent with their abilities and desire to take reasonable risks. What passes for government and governing today is a sham, a ruse, an embarrassment to their intentions and to ourselves, if we could be embarrassed about much these days. Even China mocks our dysfunction.

Hypocrisy is practiced by both parties and is the exclusive property of neither one. Republicans are now quoting Democrats, who spoke out against a government shutdown when it was politically advantageous and who now are for it. Democrats have their own list of quotes about Republicans.

The only benefit from this, if one can call it a benefit, is that Republicans are at last fighting back. During previous threats to shut down government, Republicans have cowered and allowed Democrats and the media to blame them. It’s nice to see them refusing unconditional surrender this time.

There must be a better way. There is, but the public must demand it. Given the divisions in the country, which are reflected in the Congress, don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.

This is why we need term limits. Meantime, here’s one idea: shut Congress down and don’t pay them until they start behaving like adults and serve American citizens first.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

teaser
Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: September is National Recovery Month

The biggest challenge when talking about recovery is the truth that one… Continue reading

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is seen in this Dec. 19, 2019 file photo. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Opinion: Alaska will greatly benefit from historic infrastructure bill

I was able to add many provisions to our bipartisan bill that are targeted to help Alaska.