This essay was first published on Huffington Post.com – March 23, 2017
February 28, 2017. For the first time as President, Mr. Trump stood before a joint session of Congress. The networks’ TV pool director brought us grand, sweeping shots of the House Chamber. Shots that laid bare the stubborn divide that leaves so many Americans brimming with anger and confusion.
The Republicans stood. The Democrats sat.
The democratic women wore suffragette white and turned down their thumbs. Vice-President Pence and Speaker Ryan sat behind the leader of the free world, with the righteous smirks of victory stapled upon their faces.
America was not surprised by the imagery of gridlock. It’s what they say they’ve come to expect from those who populate the swamp, the Hill, the DC bubble, inside the beltway. After President Obama took office, Senate Majority Leader McConnell vowed obstruction at all cost. Representative Joe Wilson called him a liar from the House floor. Now we have a new President and Senator Schumer says Dump Trump. New DNC Chairman Perez called for a resistance to make sure that Mr. Trump becomes a one term president.
And America is still angry.
Why can’t our politicians sit down together and work things out? Who planted these seeds of dysfunction in DC? What is wrong with our capital city? Why are they talking past each other on health care, the national budget and so many other issues? Why are they leaving parts of the country where real people live in the lurch? I have the answer, but first I have to get something off my chest.
As a resident of DC, I am tired of it being said that Washington is the problem. Some people take it too far and decide that just because we populate the swamp, we suffer from, support and help create the maladjusted communication that permeates the Capitol and the White House. Some people think that there is some kind of airborne pathogen that only exists within the beltway that causes those who come here to forget the real world from which they came. Neither is true.
First of all, without a senator or representatives, DC citizens have little power to influence what happens on the hill. Or in our own city for that matter. In fact, 600,000 plus of us can vote and agree on an issue like the right to die only to have our collective agreement placed in jeopardy at the hands of some would-be kings from Capitol Hill like Sen. James Langford of Oklahoma and Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. Extra emphasis on the fact that they don’t even live here. Which leads me nicely to my point.
The dysfunction is not Washington based. It’s not home grown or learned in my city. It travels here, like the bubonic plague, from other cities and states around the country. The crisis in communication going on in the nation’s capital belongs to those beyond the mythical DC swamp. When we read in articles about the Tea Party extremist who won’t negotiate, or see headlines like Republicans and Democrats Won’t Negotiate to Stop Shutdown, we aren’t reading about folks from DC. The rest of the country voted for and sent these people here. Voters knew they didn’t have a compromising bone in their bodies, yet they voted them into office, sent them to Washington and then cried foul when they did exactly what they said they would do.
You want the dysfunction to end? Vote for reasonable people who might be inclined to listen to another point of view because the fate of the people is at stake. Send them to DC instead of the ideologues who besmirch our good city and our name. Own your problems and fix them. Good manners begin at home.