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Crisis Junkies

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That addicts run Washington shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. In the 1980s the drug of choice was deregulation. In the '90s it was deregulation plus tech boom money, and in the early '00s it was the housing boom, bailout money and deficit spending. Now there's a new drug in town: manufactured crisis.

I learned this for myself in a conversation with the head of an agency in the current administration. I asked him about his sharp campaign to get funding for a difficult initiative. He said, "Well, these days, nothing happens in this town without a crisis."

Aside from many actual crises, we've seen in the last decade an enormous rise in manufactured ones. From the falsified intelligence on WMD's that led us to start a war in Iraq to the self-destructive "fiscal cliff" and "sequester" concoctions our political leaders have become crisis creators and drama queens.

Holding our elected officials to a higher standard is easier said than done. We need them to be proactive, and not to await or manufacture a crisis to make meaningful change. Yet in continuing to elect and reelect crisis junkies to be our leaders, we are the enablers, handing the addicts the drugs.

The crisis bar keeps getting raised -- in fact, even the unthinkable Sandy Hook school shooting tragedy, plus 90 percent voter approval, couldn't get enough steam for the Senate to pass legislation for dumbed-down background checks on gun purchases.

With crisis junkies in charge we are locked in a repetition compulsion. When things improve, the slowdown in drama locks the wheels of progress until conditions deteriorate again. Then crisis happens or is manufactured, and the cycle repeats.

Just like anyone enabling an addict, we are not victims, but volunteers -- we know that a sober, measured approach has a higher likelihood than any crisis of leading to great outcomes, yet we keep them in office.

We've elected and reelected Congress people that we regularly rate lower than any time in history. What are we waiting for to make a change -- another crisis?

I hope not. Hopefully we won't have to collectively hit too many more "bottoms" to make exercise the necessary leadership as voters and citizens.

It's my hope in presenting these ideas that our recognition of this problem as a society -- that we are fostering and enabling the crisis junkie mindset to control the destiny of our nation -- will help begin a targeted discussion that can lead us in a more sober direction, one on the road to recovery.