This past weekend saw 2 very different kinds of rivalries play out.
The first was the (mostly) lighthearted ribbing between fans of the remaining 4 teams in the NFL playoffs. If you are a fan, whether your team won or lost you probably had plenty to say about it. And yes, some people do take it too far (I’m looking at you, Philadelphia) but for the most part these rivalries are just for fun. There are no serious, long-term consequences for the fans regardless of who wins the Super Bowl and a week after it’s over we’ve all moved on to other things.
The second is going on in Congress. At the time of this writing the federal government is in shutdown mode because no budget has been passed. Both sides of the aisle are, of course, blaming the other for this happening. This is not only happening on Capitol Hill but on social media as well. Truth is, BOTH sides are to blame. And you are burying your head in the sand if you don’t think so.
Remember when we were kids and our parents told us to “play nice” when other kids were around? Sometimes that meant you had to let someone else use your favorite Monopoly token or hold your favorite doll. Sometimes that meant you had to take turns when you usually played all the time. Regardless, you knew at a very young age what that meant and that there would be consequences if you didn’t.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of folks in our federal government (and many state governments as well) have forgotten how to “play nice”. How to compromise. How to work together to actually serve the people they were elected to serve. Instead, they dig their heels in and refuse to budge, just like a selfish child who doesn’t want to use the red pieces instead of the blue ones in their favorite board game. And, much like when a child acts up, there are consequences. The difference is that in the case of Congress, the consequences usually affect someone else and not them. The example that has been getting the most attention on social media is that while Congress gets paid, the military does not. Believe it or not, that’s actually true, and quite frankly it’s embarrassing. But there many other folks affected too. Folks who process disability claims- including ones for veterans. Folks who maintain our National parks. Folks who process small business loan applications. And while the military will get back pay once things are up and running again some others aren’t required to be compensated (although they usually are). And even if they do eventually get back pay, that doesn’t help much if the mortgage payment is due tomorrow.
So, today I call on every member of Congress (and angry football fans take a listen too) to think back to their childhoods. Think back to when you had to use that ugly wheelbarrow token that one game of Monopoly. It wasn’t so bad now was it? Now think about the hundreds of thousands of people who are not getting paid today while you are getting paid to do the exact opposite of what you were hired to do- serve the American people. It’s time to stop posturing and speaking only in sound bites full of rhetoric and hate. It’s time to stop referring to the folks across the aisle from you as Satan Incarnate. It’s time sit down and work out a long term budget plan based on compromise and mutual respect. It’s time to do your damn job.