It’s fashionable to say our government is broken. While it’s true that it’s not working very efficiently these days, broken is an exaggeration. At various times in our country’s history, partisanship has disabled the smooth workings of our system. Think of it like an out-of-balance washing machine—when the load is a little out of whack, the spin cycle functions, if somewhat noisily. It’s only when the blanket gets all on one side of the tub that forces operating without balance will throw the machine around and cause us to get off our dead asses and adjust the weight.
It’s the discomfort caused by the inefficiency that makes us change things. That’s the way our system is supposed to work. Sure, it would be great if politicians made the people the priority over the parties, but in most cases, they’re in there to serve their own interests. Often, their interests are aligned with those that give them money or gifts.
You can see it from Washington, D.C., all the way to Carson City. A great example would be the letter 47 Republican senators sent to Iran with the intention of undermining the United States’ attempt to curb Iran’s ostensible nuclear ambitions. Isn’t there a law in the United States that’s supposed to address the situation when individuals take actions to undermine our national interests? Seems like there should be one. We do have soldiers in that region, after all.
But even closer to home, intense partisanship has been undermining our shared community interests during this session of the Nevada Legislature. Few people who are spending time at the Legislature come home talking about anything except the pervasive rancor. In fact, the very fact that formerly moderate statesmen are painting themselves into party corners that will hurt their re-election chances down the road is reason for celebration on the opposing side.
This session of the Legislature will likely be judged a failure by history, which raises hopes that politicians will sooner rather than later come to the conclusion that their self-interests are best served by cooperating and negotiating with the opposing side to come up with laws and debates and taxes that will move the citizens of this state ahead in a smooth forward motion instead of lurching from left to right like a lobbyist driving home from Adele’s.
It’s really sort of funny or ironic or something. People agree on the vast majority of issues we discuss on a regular basis. Everybody agrees that people should be safe. Everybody agrees children should be educated. Everybody agrees that the air we breathe shouldn’t cause cancer.
Not everything has to be a line in the sand. Not every detail is a battle that can’t be lost. Sometimes minor differences can be surrendered to the opposition as a strategy to get a more important concession. These are simple truths that we teach our children when they begin to play with others.