In the midst of partisan rhetoric, we often hear a politician of one stripe accuse a politician of another stripe of being wishy-washy, which apparently is supposed to be the poison pill of criticisms and kill any chance that voters would ever support the other guy. Lost in this talking-head sound-bite garbage is the reality.
A bill is introduced. Let’s say it’s a good bill, well-considered (if there are any, and I’m not convinced of that), and it has extensive bi-partisan support. Then the special-interest and pork-barrel boys and girls seize the opportunity to ride the rails to a vote with pet peeves and projects tacked on that have nothing to do with original intent of the legislation. Like children in a sandbox, they squabble over the incidentals and call each other names for awhile until something that looks nothing like the original bill reaches a vote.
Any original supporter who then votes “Nay” is pilloried as being feeble of character and lacking strength of conviction. And we’re supposed to buy that, when the truth is far different. The “Nay” comes from a person who refuses to allow an irreparably broken system to once again fail the American people by not sticking to the point.
The defense appropriations process is in crisis. The impact of back-to-back wars and the inevitable increase in military spending that accompanies so many years of active combat is unsustainable. Efforts to rein in runaway costs have to address the process from multiple angles, and the importance of this necessity is being hijacked by one of those contentious issues that divides the debate into armed and dangerous camps.
“Don’t ask don’t tell” has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we have spent our way into permanent deficit purgatory. And yet those who wish to repeal the current policy and those who oppose the change can’t do something so simple, so obviously more effective in terms of reaching a resolution, as to separate the question of gays and lesbians in the military from how we are going to deal with a crisis of unprecedented proportions.
Americans of all persuasions and political ideologies should be outraged. Like parents who discipline children, as if there are many left in this country, we should be grabbing the rulers and the belts to demand that elected representatives do the job they were sent there to do by dealing with each issue on its own merits.
Is that too much to ask?