One undeniable fact that history has always shown us without fail, is that every empire to ever see its moment of glory under the sun, no matter how breathtaking in scope and dimension, eventually crumbled. The good news is that human history has been painstakingly recorded so future generations can learn from past mistakes and avoid the same pitfalls, the bad news is we don’t seem to be grasping the warnings.
Democracies of ancient times had the concept down pat, the voice of the people should reign supreme. But then, because there was no way to effectively streamline the will of the masses into a manageable structure, legislators were born, a chosen few granted the honor and privilege to represent the voice of others. But, with the birth of the legislator, came the inevitable afterbirth, corruption. Just like in ancient days, it always seems to gravitate to those granted the power to speak for others.
We’ve never known a civilization that didn’t fall victim to this particular scourge in the end, and now at the dawn of the 21st century, the 535 bodies that make up our own Congress are rumbling down the very same road. The one million dollar question is, are we going to just passively sit in the nosebleed section of the bleachers and watch it happen?
Barack Obama swept into the White House riding a wave fueled by America’s desire for change. The Tea Party is trying to find steady legs by whistling the same tune, counting on the rampant frustration out there that is growing by the day. But, we are treading on a trap door when we embrace change just for the sake of change without a clear rationale or direction. It seems the common practice of picking the other party is the misguided concept that is all the rage these days. The common thinking is all we have to do is change the Ds to Rs, or vice versa, and things will change. Unfortunately, the way our government is set up to run, the exact opposite becomes true. When it is too late to make a difference, we realize we embarked on another fool’s errand with more stagnation and corruption of the system becoming the ugly truth once again.
It should be an honor to be elected as a legislator. It should be the spirit of service to the greater good, not ambition for self advancement that drives anyone’s decision to run for office. Sadly, that has become the exception, not the rule. To make things even harder to find a diamond in the rough, in today’s information age we are bombarded from all sides with celebrities. They are driven down our throats and engraved into our psyche which makes us comfortable with them, like our favorite old shoes. And then our gravest weakness is preyed on, our desire to be represented by someone that is just like us, someone with our quirks and faults, someone that we hope can identify with us on a personal level.
It is time to take a step back and see how this completely defies logic. I may be a wiz at “the Google”, but should I be the one diagnosing what ails a sick loved one? Of course not, I want someone better, I want the best. I want Dr. House on steroids. I want someone that makes me look like an elementary school drop out. We should want the same in Washington. I don’t want the person that wakes up needing to read the headlines to set their direction on any given day, I want the person that can write volumes about tomorrow that will make them seem clairvoyant when tomorrow comes to pass.
The fact that Sarah Palin and the word President are even mentioned in the same sentence is an example of this dilemma, and it chills me to the core. Has our mighty nation fallen so far? Have we become such a celebrity addicted people that something like that is even in the realm of possibility? Are mainstream media outlets, corporations beholden to the bottom line, the best place to find the shoes we want to be wearing for the next decade and beyond? Will we be content with the next jack-of-all-trades that is a master of none? Shouldn’t we be moving mountains instead to find the master of ONE? It’s like wanting the creator of the Pet Rock to become the new Secretary of the Treasury because he managed to make millions selling something as simple and worthless as a rock. But, I wouldn’t want the guy that happened to stumble over the leprechaun at the end of the rainbow and found his pot of gold, I want an economic Beethoven, that unique individual that I know is out there, the one that can taste numbers and has always had the gift that would allow them to just sit down and play that particular piano.
Shouldn’t we want the same thing in a legislator? I can’t speak for you, but that’s what I want. I want the wisdom and moral high ground of a grandparent, the heart of a teenage rebel, and the passion of an artist all rolled into one. I want an unwavering hero to champion my causes, a knight of the modern world that still puts ethics, honor and integrity above even their own ambitions. I want someone that feels blessed to be in such a prestigious position, but is still humbled by the power they wield each and every day. I want someone that towers above mediocrity, not the poster child for it. I want someone that thinks $155,000 a year is a lot of money and believes they should be working their tail off for us every single day to earn it. I want someone that would vote against a pay raise for themselves when so many are in dire straits, not because it’s politically savvy, but because it’s right.
Barack Obama is president today because the majority of Americans saw these qualities in him. There is no other feasible explanation that could account for a virtual unknown to ride the rocket from obscurity to leader of the most powerful nation on earth in just two short years. He vocalized the change we have been seeking. He made sense and stirred that primal instinct we all share to leave the generations of tomorrow a better world. We gave him the keys and told him to drive, but we seem to want to leave the boot on the car. That boot is partisan gridlock in Congress and if we want any chance to arrive quickly and safely at our destination, we have to find a way to free up the wheels. Swapping Ds for Rs, or Rs for Ds at the first opportunity is not going to remove the boot, it will simply put it on another wheel, but the car still won’t move.
The stench of congress is overwhelming a majority of Americans now. Polls show it, pundits talk about it, and we are all starting to smell it ever more potently. When so many people can smell something this rotten, rest assured that opportunities will soon be seen on the horizon to change it, but it will be up to us all as individuals to seize the opportunities when they present themselves. It is up to us to and make the wise choice and scream with the power of a unified voice that we will not tolerate mediocrity any longer.
We gave President Obama the keys because he had a map that most of us agreed with, otherwise he would not be in office today. Don’t you think it’s time we took the boot off and let him start our journey forward? If we find him veering off course in the next three years, we can snatch away his keys and give them to someone else that earns our trust under the hot lights of a presidential election campaign. But, until Congress strives to find solutions instead of obstacles, we will find ourselves crawling along at a newborn’s pace, and while a baby crawls faster than a Lamborghini with a boot on it, is that the style in which America should be traveling?
We are a nation that has always set the pace, blazed new trails and set an example for the world to follow. If we don’t start getting that edge back, we will just become another glorious empire relegated to the footnotes of history. The power is still in our hands, we just have to quit embracing mediocrity in Washington and look past celebrity and name recognition to find those few unique individuals that are the gifted prodigies, the ones that are not like most of us, but something more, the ones that feel honor and pride in being given the privilege to represent our voices and desires. It is high time we start to do the back-breaking work of panning for gold again if we ever hope to find those precious nuggets that can change our stars from inside Washington.
Time stops for no one, and wasting even one more second in the ridiculous quagmire that Congress has become is a poisonous fruit that we can’t afford another bite of. So get in the ear of your legislators and let them know that you are not going to take it any more and may the will of the majority finally be done.
Partisanship today is serving no one, but somewhere out there are the right people with the right stuff. We the people deserve nothing less as long as we are willing to part the party fog and turn over every stone to find them. Until we do, Rome is burning.