When people ask me what I do, I often tell a little joke. "I work in politics. You know "poli" -- that's Latin for many. And of course, "ticks" are blood-sucking animals."
But, with the toxic brew of over-the-top destructive partisanship in Washington today, the joke isn't funny anymore.
I've worked in and around Washington politics for more than twenty-five years. I have seen presidents and Speakers of the House come and go. But I have never seen anything as dangerous as what we have today. It's a political storm that is worse than hurricanes Katrina and Sandy put together.
The partisan infighting is putting America's future at risk. Our government is largely shut down, and debt-ceiling issues loom. That we all know. But well beyond all that there is an even deeper mean-spirited "finger-pointing for the sake of the cameras" partisanship that possess our politicians. Politicians attack the plans of the other party without any thought of their own to how they would solve America's challenges. This "no solutions/take no responsibility" attitude threatens the very core of our future.
It's time to bring back common sense and a spirit of bipartisanship.
Today's dangerous mess has been made worse by the fact that a huge part of America watches only MSNBC and other liberal media outlets and votes only for Democrats while another huge part of Americans only watches Fox and other conservative media outlets and votes only for Republicans. We have lost the power of swing voters who inspire politicians to work together to solve problems.
Gerrymandering of Congressional districts has enabled extremes of both parties to have "safe" seats in the majority of Congressional districts.
It's as if our citizens live in two parallel universes that never intersect.
Where are the Bill Clintons, George H.W. Bushes and Bob Doles who can forge compromises?
America is a great nation, founded on bedrock values of freedom, equality, innovation and progress. But the leaders today are more interested in finger pointing than problem solving. From Senator Ted Cruz's filibuster from the right, to the failure of implementation President Obama's signature healthcare policy on the left, little is working, as it should.
Take one example -- universal health care coverage -- the signature policy achievement of the Obama administration. Indeed, successful universal healthcare is a laudable goal for America. No one wants it to succeed more than me. However, even comedian/political commentator Jon Stewart, an ardent fan of President Obama who largely makes his living by poking fun of what recently have been termed "Banna-Republicans," tore apart the implementation of President Obama's signature healthcare policy. Stewart pointed out that U.S. taxpayers spent $630 million on the Healthcare.gov website which is supposed to enable our citizens a smooth entry to healthcare options. But the site is a disastrous mess!
When Stewart interviewed Secretary of HHS Kathleen Sebelius, who is in charge of implementing "Obamacare," she gave us nothing that would inspire confidence that what lies behind the failed website will cure our healthcare woes.
Meanwhile, elected officials now privately admit that almost nothing positive is getting done in American politics today due to partisan bickering. Even when the government "re-opens" for real business it is not expected to move forward. This has put the stock market in a tizzy and caused many employers to delay adding new full time positions.
Some of the best politicians and public servants (really -- there are some!) are considering other career options. Clearly the voters are thinking of throwing out ALL of America's elected officials.
Still, there is a bright spot from which we can take inspiration -- the U.S.- Israel relationship. Those issues reach consensus. Partially it is because America and Israel have shared values, interests and visions for the future. But partially because the people working on those issues have, over a period of decades, avoided partisanship. It can and should be an example for how we can come together around other issues.
America can and must learn from bipartisan cooperation so that we can achieve progress on our budget, healthcare, job creation and so much more. For example, 70 percent of Americans with disabilities are outside the workforce (compared to 28 percent of those who don't have disabilities). This costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits while denying people with disabilities the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Now... shouldn't THAT be a bipartisan issue to resolve?