This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. By Anonymous
This week the US Government failed to implement an alternative “cuts” strategy. This absence of action was itself an action: the “sequestration” has become law; across-the-board cuts to programming have been initiated.
For those engaged in the struggle this indecision-decision was merely “another” in a long line of recent failures. The US Government has become increasingly addicted to crisis. Unfortunately, like all addictions the “hit” must become better, bigger, and more exciting over time.
In the span of twenty years we have witnessed the end of bipartisan governance; we have replaced hard-won but respected compromise with a culture that rewards paralysis and schism-building.
Rather than a national consensus, our elected leaders seek a plurality-based permanent struggle. While this has always been the means for justification of a permanent lobby-class, it is now become an end for leaders that have boxed themselves into intractable positions.
Put another way, we should understand the sequestration as a permanent thing. Everybody benefits when nothing gets done – at least for the near-term. When somebody attempts what nobody did, but anybody should have done – that somebody is often dismissed from relevance.
There is no Easter Bunny, there will be no “Grand Bargain,” and there is no heroic savior coming to our rescue riding on a white stallion: we are now, and for the foreseeable future, hostage to a dysfunctional political system of our own making.
We have met the enemy… and it is us. Each, every one of us is responsible for what will come.
We the People have the absolute control over our own government when We the People choose to exercise it; We the People are responsible for the many, the few, and the one.
Each, every time we elect people that offer little more than a willing vote to support our own interests – without an understanding of what, why, and how the issues matter – we reaffirm mediocrity.
Each, every time we sustain leaders that are afraid of innovation and/or transformation when the evidence warrants it – we reaffirm groupthink as well as weakness.
And each, every time we tolerate the men and women elected in our name to be too cute by half – implementing such non-solutions as the sequester – we reaffirm the worse angels of our democratic nature.
Though most deny it, I suspect than more than a few of our “state-ambassadors” (Congress) in Washington DC felt at least a tinge of relief when the sequester became reality. A crisis, even a manufactured crisis, is the lifeblood of modern electoral politics.
Crises steal attention away from the larger issues: crises camouflages the failures in prevention and mitigation that warrant public attention but rarely receive it. There was once a time when leaders understood the value of strategic planning; America was a greater nation then.
Cuts are needed and without a plan for implementing “smart cuts” so-called “dumb cuts” will at least reduce the scale, shape, and size of government. For good or ill, our elected leaders cannot rush to the “defense” of a program unless/until it is actually in danger… which is a flawed but real incentive for our recent failures.
Every so often history appears to repeat itself. During times of crisis Roman Emperors would revive the games in the Coliseum. Bread and circuses would keep the attention of the public as the leadership sought out solutions for problems that in most cases had been created by the inability of elites to work in common cause.
It is time we reconsider the kind of government – and the kind of governors – we empower. It is time we reward doing the “right thing” as it relates to the needs of the people and the structures and systems required to sustain the health, security, and welfare of the people over time.
There are various forms of a Constitutional Amendment that defines “money” and “speech” as separate things. It would help reform our elections. We should support it.
There are plans afoot in our Legislature to reorganize our methodology for training young people and returning workers. It would help us teach and train a new generation of workers for a new generation of skills requirements. We should support them.
And there are conversations across the nation associated with reinventing our apportionment practices and voter rights. It would curtail the de facto power of hyper-partisan interparty factions. We should support structures and systems that produce open, transparent primaries. The status quo too often empowers dystunction along with sustained paralysis for our nation, state, and communities.
We the People are responsible for the mess in Washington DC. We cannot blame the men and women that benefit from failure, inaction, and systemic cowardice for acting on behalf of their own interests – we bred them for it.
But it is time for a revolution of the spirit – a time for making fundamental change through peaceful means, for honorable ends.
We must celebrate the good men and women sent in our name; we must keep a watchful eye so that they remain firm in the cause of change without becoming captured by the silent, slow seduction of the status quo.
Our America used to be the place where we could celebrate our diversity through the loud, unstoppable enthusiasm of a populist republic; Our America was the original laboratory for democracy on a mass scale.
We exist now as an echo of what we used to be, a fading shadow because of our own inability to govern the governors.
This sequestration will likely last longer than anybody thought possible; it will impact everybody – over time. And it happened because nobody had the courage to do what anybody should have tried.
Let’s use this failure to define the moment we came together as a nation, state, and community and reclaimed our America.