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Shutdown Averted, But No Congratulations in Order

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What a relief to see that our House and Senate found a way to compromise and to avert -- at least for now -- a shutdown of our federal government. How tragic, though, that it got to that point.

Before we spend too much time congratulating anyone, or before we sit by and watch the finger-pointing-game fight for airtime with the take-credit-game, let's remind ourselves that this is not how it should be. We, the people, should not be held hostage by a bunch of politicians looking for political gain or for points to be scored, nor should we allow ourselves to be the victims of a system that plays politics with the very real issues of what we need for our government to fulfill its responsibilities to us, the people.

I just jumped in to the special election to represent California's 36th district in the US House of Representatives believing that the kind of problem-solving and consensus-building I've done over and over again throughout the last 25 years is precisely what we need in Washington. I know that a can-do attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit are the very approaches we need to overcome the stasis that seems to drive so many of our politicians. It's exactly what I was thinking today, on the way to the Little League field where I'm now writing this, as I answered a question from one of my sons about just what a "government shutdown" is.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned a government that would be led by the people, for the people. Their idea was one of Citizen Legislators who could apply their real-world knowledge and their hands-on experience to the very real challenges of government. Theirs was a vision of people -- whatever their differences may be -- coming together to create a more perfect union -- a truly United States. "Shutdowns" were not what they had in mind.

I look around and see a system that seems to be led by the politicians and for the politicians. The people -- on both ends -- seem to be left out of that equation.

I have the highest level of respect for our government institutions and for the well-intentioned and hard-working people in them. And I applaud President Obama and his staff for hanging tough as they worked so hard to find this last-minute solution. I believe, though, that these are not problems that citizens should have to worry about when they wake up in the morning. We should not need to wonder whether we have a functioning government on any given day.

We can do better than that; we must do better than that. This ought to be our government, as it was intended to be, representing the interests of the people. It is time to get past the partisan bickering, the name-calling, and the finger-pointing, and to get to work on the very real and numerous problems facing our nation.

Imagine how refreshing it would be if our Representatives and Senators had the guts, when talking to the cameras and microphones over the next few days, to stand up and, instead of taking credit for what was accomplished at literally the last moment, apologize to all of us for not finding a solution sooner, for not managing to reach across the aisles (we have several that need crossing now!) to find the compromises needed. None of us have the luxury, in our small businesses, in our families, or in our personal finances -- to behave the way we allow our government to behave.

It's time we apply the imagination, creativity, and innovation California is known for, to the very real work that needs to be done in Washington. Working together, we really can make this greatest country on earth live up to the very high ideals our Founding Fathers set for us.