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Unreason has totally prevailed…
When Senator Olympia Snowe announced that she would not seek reelection, we lamented her decision, saying that our democracy will miss her and her ability to bring people together at a time when ultra polarization had become the norm in Congress (like Greece in the ‘80’s, when the seeds of today’s disaster were planted). The recent government shutdown made the absence of voices like hers more ominous than ever. It seems unreason has totally prevailed…
It wasn’t easy for Senator Snowe to chart the squalls in the Congressional gap that usually separates sanity from insanity. Still are fresh the vitriolic attacks against her when she voted for the so-called Obama health care law. And they weren’t political hits of the type someone would expect in an advanced democracy; they were malicious slurs, under the belt kicks, with the aim to expose her as a …traitor, someone who somehow betrayed the sacrosanct tenets of the party. But she had …the balls to do so!
“To me, it’s not about titles or roles; it’s doing what’s right …whether that’s working with Republicans or Democrats,” she had said in an interview for a cover story with NEO magazine. “It’s considering each bill or proposal and determining whether this was the right way to address a particular problem. Americans have little trust in the ability of Congress to address their concerns or the problems of our nation. No wonder our approval ratings as an institution have reached all-time lows! The answer begins with resoluteness. It involves cooperation. It understands bipartisanship. And it ends with leadership. Our government, our nation, our political system, and our people have persevered in the face of enormous challenges, because people of good will have gotten involved and worked together. The fact is, no party has a lock on good ideas – and especially when it comes to the major issues, for any proposed solutions to have true credibility with the American people, they cannot simply represent the desires of those on the political extremes.”
Challenging words of wisdom that make us nostalgic especially as we read and hear what comes out of our current lawmakers’ mouths, when they are not yawning…
Last week, at the Hellenic Initiative inaugural event, I had the pleasure to briefly talk to former Senator Paul Sarbanes, a political pundit whose wisdom has become more contemporary as our government seems to devolve and we are confronted with the worse that has already come (hopefully). Senator Sarbanes was disappointed, bordering angry and didn’t mince his words when I asked him for his take on the shutdown. “Tea Party people don’t know how to govern,” he said, they don’t get the idea of “principled compromise” which is what makes a democracy possible.
At this point, when comedy and desperation could lead to further inaction on behalf of the citizenry, former Senator Snowe, using her Facebook page, called people to arms! “Clearly there is power in making your voice heard,” she posted. “We ALL need to be calling our members of Congress. We cannot let the only voices they hear be those of the ideologically driven. Your Senator and Representatives must hear that from YOU – a voter and constituent – that this gridlock is intolerable and unacceptable!”
As in Egypt, Iran, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey even Brazil and Russia, resorting to Facebook and other social media could perhaps be our most realistic possibility as citizens when it comes to promoting …democracy! It’s sad, if you think about it, but after Citizens United even voting has stopped to be as relevant and that is reflected in today’s Congress. Take my word though, if the system has decided to self-destruct people will find the way to facilitate the process sooner or later…