I am a liberal from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.
I believe the government’s job is to make sure there is a fair and level playing field and that we need to take care of the least of us. This belief extends to how society treats the poor and those behind bars, which is reflective of the entire society.
When conservatives panned Jeb Bush this week about his views on the attitude we need to have toward immigrants – understanding that their actions are “an act of love” toward their families – I cheered. The backlash against former Gov. Jeb Bush was huge, and pundits are already taking aim at him for 2016.
It is hard for a politician such as Jeb Bush to go against his base and survive, and some have even been accused of doing what ever it takes to get elected. For instance, Rep. Vance McAllister’s kissing partner’s husband said he was never a religious conservative until he ran for Congress. It can be that appealing to a specific base that gets members of Congress elected and even win an election to the White House. It might be the way to get elected, but it is not how to govern.
John F. Kennedy’s book, “Profiles in Courage,” was written about senators who step out of party politics and do what needs to be done or said for the good of the country and the people living in it. “Profiles in Courage” was published in 1957, before the Internet, before C-Span and before nightly fundraisers in Congress. Members went out with each other, and there was more collegiality.
Now, with constant television and instant Internet coverage, we are stuck in endless debate and inaction. There is very little compromise in our country, and this last week with dueling budgets was no exception. Votes were taken on the Ryan budget and the Democratic alternative. It doesn’t matter; neither will ultimately pass.
According to the most recent Rasmussen poll, “More voters than ever would rather scrap the current Congress than to see it re-elected.” The poll results finds that just nine percent of likely U.S. voters think it would be better for the country if most incumbents were re-elected this November. Seventy-two percent say it would be better if most of them were defeated instead.
Despite these terrible numbers, there are people who are working hard to move things along. One group, No Labels, is attempting to fix this total stuck and unproductive situation we are now in as a country. It has a simple solution to make us move again as a country, and they say, “Stop fighting, start fixing.” What do they want to do? The first item on the list is simple: “No budget, no pay.” In other words, if Congress can’t pass a budget, then it shouldn’t get paid. Any parent can relate to that. It’s just a simple extension of tough love that some point parents give their children. It makes sense. We elect people to Congress to pass a budget. Get it done, or don’t get paid. They also suggest a two-year budget cycle to cut down on the rancor and leave time to get other things accomplished.
Much of what No Labels wants makes sense as well. It is not conservative or liberal; it is good management. For instance, one of its strategic plans is, “Don’t duplicate, consolidate.” This is basic management. If we’re going to move our country ahead and be competitive with the rest of the world, it is our only option. We have seen this recently with our intelligence gathering. Not only is it inefficient, it makes taking aim at responsibility for everything from who is doing “enhanced interrogation” to who is collecting data almost impossible to finger. It means that multiple congressional committees can hold hearings on the same issue and take twice as much time getting nowhere.
Another of No Labels’ calls for action includes cutting the budget by having less traveling and more video conferencing. What a novel idea in this age of the Internet! It makes so much sense that we can marvel at the idea that our government doesn’t do this.
I’m not going to steal No Labels’ thunder by going over each of its ideas for making America work again (it has a free e-book at NoLabels.org), but making some of the simple changes it recommends would help us move forward.
Do I agree with all of the ideas? No, but as my dentist said when I was 13, “Everything in life is a compromise.”
Media wishing to interview Ellen Ratner, please contact [email protected].