I am appalled and embarrassed by what is happening in the Congress of the United States. I’ve felt this way for more than 10 years, but this past two weeks has been a crushing indictment of how self interest, personal ambition, ideology, and self delusion have taken precedence over the best interests of the people and nation our elected official are sworn to represent.
Governing America has never been a simple task. Democracy is messy but compromise is what has enabled it to deliver balanced solutions to complex problems for more than 200 years. The current “deciders” of our fate are acting like the spoiled and privileged children most of them probably are. They are throwing tantrums, locking themselves in their rooms and refusing to come out until they get their way. Meanwhile, the rest of us are hostages.
Our country has been in decline for more more than a generation. When the Berlin Wall came down we became the single remaining superpower, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. We were rich, envied and smug. Even though we were the most powerful nation in history there were cracks in the edifice. Our education system had been failing the country and its students since the 1960s. Dropout rates were astronomical and high school graduates unqualified for either work or higher education. Our university system was and is the envy of the world, but a quality education is now beyond the means of many Americans. More and more of our successful students are from other countries but unlike previous generations these graduates are going home to work rather than following the dream of success and achievement in America.
After 9/11 we had the world's support and sympathy, a budget surplus, and a clear path to prosperity. Since then we have squandered the first two, started two wars and let Wall Street greed drive us into the financial ditch.
I live and work in Vietnam where hard work, dreams, and sacrifice are the still the elements that lead to a better life. Parents sacrifice and suffer so that their children will have a chance at a better life. When I return to the US I see adult children living with and off their parents and complaining that they can’t find the “right” job while discussing whether Kim Kardashian has butt implants. Let’s get serious. America is becoming a second tier country. We don’t have universal healthcare even though we spend much more than any other country. We have crumbling roads and bridges, inferior mass transit, an overlooked and decrepit rail system. We are fighting two and a half undeclared, expensive wars – one of which was unnecessary and unwise and distracted us from finishing the other. So, what is going on in Congress? Why aren’t the two parties coming together to work out a solution? For some reason these spoiled and privileged children think that they can have it all without working hard or paying for it. I definitely want America to have and be the best of everything, and I think it can if we’re all willing to pay our fair share. With the country teetering on the edge of default and the disparity between rich and poor greater than any time in my lifetime, why is there any question about the responsibility of America’s richest people to pay their fair share to the country that enabled them to become rich. I just don’t get it. Trust me the people holding us hostage are not worried about their pay or retirement checks. They’ll be just fine.