It's the surprise midseason hit, the "must see TV" of the summer, keeping millions of viewers on the edge of their seats. Is it the Bachelorette? None of these players would even score a rose. Jersey Shore? Fugget-about-it. Survivor? These folks would be lucky just to make it off the island alive. The reality show I'm talking about was never pitched as a series, it just happened. You might call it Budget Crisis 2011 - A Nation on the Brink. You can get updates around the clock online or watch it unfold on any of the twenty-four hour news networks.
The "cast" is already so famous they are known by single names: Obama, Boehner, Reid, as are their alliances: Democrats, Republicans, the Tea Party. Together, they offer all the drama, rivalries and cat fights of any Real Housewives episode but the stakes here are very serious and very real. It's also maddening to watch.
As the nation draws ever closer to its first-ever default, we appear to be no closer to an agreement in Congress on settling this looming debt disaster, let alone seeing a bill the president would sign. The cost of failing to reach an agreement is almost unimaginable, especially when the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that more than 14 million Americans are currently out of work. Another 8 million more are employed part-time for economic reasons and nearly 3 million Americans are only marginally employed. Its easy to see how the prospect of an economic crisis is downright terrifying. Most people don't expect this bad news to end anytime soon. According to a recent Gallup poll, 73% of Americans said the U.S. economy is getting worse, the poorest score for this measure since 2009.
Unfortunately, this is not scripted television. It is not a "reality" show. There are no producers waiting in the wings to write a solution and come to the rescue. Beyond a frightening financial meltdown, the stalemate signals a serious political crisis in Washington. Americans deserve better and we should demand better.
As citizens, we speak with our votes, which brings me to the big event coming in the Fall of 2012. I'll call it Extreme Makeover: D.C. Edition. Many elected officials might come to know it by another name: Wipeout.
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