We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Just Maybe "The System" Will Win

As we watch events on Capitol Hill with a mixture of disbelief and disgust, an important thing may be happening that is hopeful if tenuous.  From "out here" most of us can see that one key problem in Congress is the breakdown of a system of politics that basically works pretty well most of the time.  It is a process of give-and-take, deal-making, and compromise that is not perfect but still has served the republic reasonably well for a long time now.  Yes, it sometimes leads to corruption.  Important principles and values can get muddied.  On the other hand, it can also produce landmark legislation that changes and improves the lives of our citizens.  It is this process that has broken down in Washington, and while there are a number of factors at work and there is no such thing as an innocent politician, it is also clear that it is the take-no-prisoners intransigence of the tea party faction esp. in the House of Representatives that is driving the breakdown of "politics as usual" in Washington and other places in our nation.

In this context, a posting at Bloomberg.com entitled, "Tea Party’s Ross Says Debt Worth Yielding on Obamacare," could be important—at least one would hope so.  The posting quotes Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Florida) as admitting, "We’ve lost the CR [continuing resolution] battle...We need to move on and take whatever we can find in the debt limit."  Ross apparently still feels that there should be negotiations concerning the debt ceiling, which President Obama has said is not going to happen, but the change in his tone is what is important.  He has shifted from intransigence on the Affordable Care Act to what appears to be a more realistic position.  He is quoted as saying, "There are a whole lot of other issues that haunted us at the election other than Obamacare,” and, “I would hope there’s at least enough of us [Republicans] to constitute a majority of reasonable people that realize we need to give and take."

The tea party began just three years ago with the attitude that the time for compromise was at an end.  Washington had to be coerced into change.  The public at large, however, quickly grew sour on that approach to national politics, and we have already several times witnessed tea party politicians go down in flames because of their radical ideologically driven approach.  The reality of American politics with its many different perspectives, is forcing tea party politicians to learn that they can't get their way long-term unless they are willing to compromise with liberals, moderates, independents, and esp. other conservatives who aren't as right-wing as they are.  Ross apparently is learning that lesson even if others in his faction haven't yet done so.  That is hopeful, as far as it goes.  We desperately need a return to the politics practiced by "reasonable people."