Dysfunction junction, what’s your function?

With the government shut down, the news is full of blustering politicians, polling over who Americans are blaming, and plenty of shut down humor.

Just like the newscasters, I have no solutions or special insight into the situation. So like the newscasters, I could tell stories of folks who are now out of work and wondering how to pay the bills. Or I could try to diagram the finger pointing and yelling happening in the capital. Or, I could just express my frustration as an average Joe.

But when I post to my blog, I try to think about what would add value – about what’s missing from the conversation. So, here’s what I’m going with:

I’m okay with the government shutdown.

I mean, not really – as a person living right here, right now, it drives me crazy and makes me angry in ways many of you are probably also experiencing. But let’s put that aside for a moment.

Sometimes, when things seem to be going badly, I’ll say to myself, “Well, at least I’m not in Europe during the Black Plague!” And this exercise is a bit like that. I wonder what the shut down will mean historically. And not just in another 17 years, but in another 50 years. Another 100 years.

Amid all the hot air on the news this morning, I caught one fiery politician saying that the founding father’s would be disappointed in us. Disappointed that we couldn’t make the government run.

And I thought, “Wait, would they?”

I mean, the founding fathers (bless their hearts) were kind of a hot mess.

Neither Rome nor our government were founded in a day, and the meetings of the Continental Congress and early United States Congress were quite heated and intense from what I understand. Politicians of the day had very real disagreements about what we should be as a country. Federalist or state favored. Industrial or agricultural. They even disagreed over who were people.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were vocal rivals. Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel over a political campaign that got particularly nasty. So lets not pretend that politics used to be all sunshine and butterflies. It’s always been a tough business in this country.

Political blockage is part of our national character. And frankly it’s intended to be. Yes, our elected officials can’t get along, but really – neither can we. Drop me in the middle of a tea party gathering, and the conversations not gonna be any prettier than what I see on the news.

We can blame congress all we want. We can point fingers and decide who’s to blame. But as long as I literally don’t understand the views of half the country and as long as they literally don’t understand me, nothing is going to change.

I’ll keep electing Massachusetts liberals, and other parts of the country will keep electing tea party Republicans. And frankly, I don’t want my guys to compromise.

So sure, let’s shut the government down. Let’s realize that the system is broken and we need to fix it. And by “we” I don’t mean that congress needs to stop acting like brats and learn to play nice. I mean we. You and me.

We need to learn to get along. Need to learn to see eachother’s points of view. Need to listen and to understand. Need to figure out how to compromise without sacrificing our ideals. This is our country. And fixing it is in our hands.

Oh, and sorry to everyone who’s out of a job as a result of this national lesson. That really sucks.


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