Well folks, we are once again finding ourselves in the uncomfortable position of that character who just isn’t quite fast enough running from a monster to get to the door before it’s closed. Cue the close-up as we roll up our sleeves and yet again take one for the team as the gridlocked federal government hasn’t let compromise get in the way of accomplishing something.
Remember the earlier explanations of how catastrophic the proposed cuts that have become sequestration were? Remember how glowering accounts characterized the effort as so odious, so hideous, so horrible our captains of Capitol Hill would drop their philosophical baggage and unite for the good of all? Surprise… that didn’t happen. I actually believed it would. My friends, I am in the vernacular of Bugs Bunny, a maroon. I have never been so disgusted with the lack of legislative locomotion.
Now I am hearing sound bites and video snippets of these stalwart politicians saying sequester isn’t going to be so bad. It’s the first meaningful cuts for our benefit. Bear in mind they are fiscally no where near the masses who coincidentally will be the ones who have to calm themselves, tighten their belts even further and bear the burden of the current political paralysis. What a coincidence. Happenstance I suppose. The irony of this hits even me particularly hard because of the area I work in. We in Surry County are largely a rural area. I routinely see our local officials pulling together for common goals.
My perspective is also shaded by growing up in far Southwestern Virginia where Appalachians quickly learned to fix their eyes on the hills but look no further than their own bootstraps for help. The (federal) cavalry just wasn’t coming to help. Being rural means as we quickly figured out the basic math Ben Franklin did. “Gentlemen, if we don’t hang together, we will hang separately,” said Franklin, who was a politician. It is a tribute to the cushioning effects of the beltway that working together for a greater good just doesn’t make it past the center lane of traffic up there.
I think voters re-electing the same bitter and divided Congress and Senate as well as the President to the most noble of motives. We liked the balance so no one had an upper hand, just like those old westerns. When the chips were down they would certainly do what was right and save the town. We have now discovered when the chips are down, the buffalo is empty. Like Dr. Seuss’ little Whos on the clover bloom, we cannot find Horton to hear us. Not only that, Horton gets to vote in his own raises and Horton won’t recognize us until next election.
What put this in perspective for me was a meeting in Pilot Mountain. The commissioners and Town Manager Homer Dearmin were getting ready for the meeting and an informal conversation broke out. I started it. I was grouching about just wanting to see Congress and the President act like good parents and not a petulant child who had to always have its way.
Dearmin put it in perspective by likening what the federal government has forgotten to what local officials seldom ignore. They provide services for the citizens they represent. Set aside the philosophy, set aside the posturing, set aside the non-stop election cycle. Compromise so the ones who sent you there can benefit a little. Grand debate can happen later, right now it’s time to do as the fishermen do. Be quiet and bail. An all or nothing battle right now for a pure philosophical victory is making sure the brass is polished on the Titanic. Iceberg right over there, boys.
Or is it? I am frightened those in the hallowed halls have been so removed from our economic struggles it’s like explaining an eggshell to a brick wall. (Eloquence aside, why would I even start such a project without the promise of a government grant to study it?) With their wages from our taxes to shield them, they just knuckle down and suffer….. but we go first. It makes me think of those WWII movies where soldiers in the trenches asked if the generals were even looking at the same battle.
I wish I had a clue where to place a lever to move them from their indifference. Perhaps a problem solving dynamo out there among our readership has an idea. Frankly, I don’t. Perhaps the parties are so certain their way is the only way they cannot bring themselves to live in a world that’s less than perfect. News flash, Washington. Down here we seldom have a day where we can skip compromising. Families everywhere have been dealt some life-changing blows and on a quiet evening you can hear the sound of the strain on a lot of fingernails, which many are hanging on by.
Economists say we haven’t yet begun to feel the impact of sequestration’s coils on us as things get tighter. Remember the song of Ka, the snake in Disney’s “The Jungle Book” (Trussssst in meeeee….). That’s what it is readers. We have fallen for the old Brer Rabbit ploy.
“Oh, please don’t throw me in the sequester patch, Brer Fox. I just couldn’t bear that,” said Senator Justa Hare and Congressman Some Bunny. “Those cuts are just too horrible to ever let happen. Put my back against the wall and then I’ll do something.”
Do we believe them this time, guys? I hope they rise to conquer the challenge.
David Broyles is a staff reporter for The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.