Have the adults finally realized that they have to actually take charge? I certainly hope so. The midterm election results are in and the drubbing of the democrats sends a clear message—but not exactly what it might appear on the surface. The results tell me two things: After six years of complete dysfunction, the American people are handing control to the Republicans and saying, “Here you go. DO Something.” Secondly, the American people have told Democrats, “Stop sniveling, grow a spine and STAND for something.” I’ll start: I’m mostly a liberal, although I have more conservative views when it comes to law enforcement or defense. There I said it. I don’t care if you don’t like that I support universal healthcare or the death penalty or still believe that the President deserves respect, regardless of his race or party.
For far too long the political and social discourse in this country has been nothing but a toxic mess. Americans have always been at our best when we act like a family. We might fight and squabble, but in the end, we stand together from any outside threat. We say, my brother might be an a-hole, but you better not say it. This is a country built on tolerance and finding common ground. Lately, common ground isn’t even considered because compromise is somehow now a dirty word. If my neighbor doesn’t espouse the exact same belief system as mine, then they are wrong, the enemy, unworthy of respect, ignorant. And you know what? I’m really tired of it.
I think I’m like the vast majority of middle of the road Americans. I want my leaders to—well, lead. I have friends who agree and disagree with me, which is a good thing. To my conservative friends: I don’t need you proselytizing or judging me or anyone else. It’s not your place. News flash: I was raised Catholic. I have my faith. In the New Testament I read, Jesus says: “Judge not lest ye be judged.” He also has a lot to say about being your brother’s keeper and how it’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get to heaven. Sorry, but I’ve come to notice that too often now when someone leads off in their self-description that they are “Christian” , that’s usually a huge red flag to me. A friend of mine shared a link from some Tea Party organization on his Facebook page the other day that read: “We need more God. Share if you agree.” I do agree, but I don’t think we need more Tea Partiers. We need real religious values of compassion, love and honesty.
So, I was very glad to hear the new Republican leadership talking about actually governing. Mitch McConnel and I are on the opposite sides of more than a few issues, but if he’s willing to find a way to work with people who don’t share his views, then he’ll have my support. But right away, the likes of Ted Cruz are already frothing at the mouth, screaming that he’s caving in to the dreaded Obama. Hey, Ted, you fantasize that you’re some second coming of Reagan. No. You are not. Ronald Reagan could talk to people on the other side, Ted. News flash: Prior to Obama, every president since FDR has talked about wanting to get universal healthcare for Americans, but it has always been deemed too difficult (read: politically dangerous). Obama did it. In the face of all your hatred, Ted. He did it and stands by it. That is actually leadership. What our country needs from all of you is to try something new—work on a solution or improvement if you think there are issues with the law. Any law.
Mitch McConnell has always wanted to be the Majority Leader. Mitch, you now have your chance to lead. You have the choice to either be like Boehner and do nothing, or seize this opportunity to make your mark on history. Infuse some of your conservative ideas into the existing laws like healthcare to improve things for your fellow Americans. It’s a fact that your home state already benefits more than almost any other from the healthcare law. Isn’t that a good thing to help more people get insurance? Fix what you think is wrong with the laws and move on. We want you to stop wasting time on repeal votes and bills to limit women’s rights and tackle real issues. Stand up to the crazy fringe in your party and say so. If you stop the bickering and work on solutions to help people, you won’t have to keep trying to convince us of your Christian values, because we’ll see them in action.
Democrats: Quit cowering in the corner and own your values. Be proud of the fact that you are the party of 100,000 police officers on the street and the Community Oriented Policing Office, which is what truly started the historic crime reduction we now enjoy. Be proud that the Affordable Care Act has helped to insure millions of Americans. Be proud of fighting to raise the minimum wage and trying to rein in corporate greed. Fight for the future of our planet by truly acknowledging climate change. Remind your conservative friends that the jobs to be realized in new technologies addressing these issues are good for business!
Both parties must stand in the ring and take your punches. Stop spouting divisive talking points and tell us what you believe in. Try having some courage of your convictions, while still humbly understanding that none of us know everything. We need more than your petulant refusal to listen to one another. And you know what? I’m betting that the majority of the American people, conservative and liberals alike, will respond with a resounding approval rating. More importantly, our country will thrive.