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Donna Smith

Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation

July 21st, 2011 2:32 PM

Why It All Sounds Like, “Blah, Blah, Blah”

When push comes to shove everybody gets their political cover moments in Washington, DC.  Everybody, that is, except the average working-class American.  The sound and fury surrounding debt ceilings and deficit reduction swirl on multiple levels, activists in the conservative right claim advancement and activists in the disenfranchised liberal left plan protests.  And the President claims he is governing from the middle ground, which is ever so much different that campaigning, so we’re always told.  And so it goes.  Cycle after cycle after cycle as working class people work to stay afloat in a society and economy increasingly disconnected from their realities.

Look (thought I’d start with the word of admonition no one seems to expunge from our current vernacular), no one in Washington, DC, circles of power lives in the world in which the rest of working class America does.  No one.  Not the President and his beautiful family.  Not the Congressional members and their DC-home district split life-styles.  Not the lobbyists on “K” Street.  Not even the career public servants who dutifully ride the Metro every day to and fro and fuel the inner workings of the city without formal representation in Congress.  It is an artificial world where toilets are cleaned and children are cared for by very real, underpaid people that has to occasionally nod outward towards the rest of America.

Every couple of years, the DC rentals turn over as one major political party or the other retains or regains power in DC.  Upscale salons and restaurants shift their services and menus while service workers cater to new clients now earning the larger volume of DC salaries.  It is a cycle of in and out, up and down, through and through that simultaneously confounds and corrupts.  No one is safe ultimately; no one is truly secure.  Some people entrench themselves with DC-based organizations and leaders least subject to bi-yearly ebbs and flows – and their safety comes from safely riding the waves of change, at one point being the outcasts throwing stones at the houses of power and at other times resting comfortably inside, cocktails in hand.

It’s no wonder that it is hard to trust the whole lot and sometimes even harder to understand what it is they are saying to one another and to the rest of us about any subject.

Take the current national debt ceiling deadline and all the energy around it.  For most of the rest of us, our issue is either we will borrow more to meet expenses or we will not.  Either we plan to earn enough to meet that increased borrowing or we do not.  And either someone is willing to give us the increased money we need based on our past credit histories or they are not.  Those are the basic questions most of us face when we run up against a personal budget crisis.   We weigh consequences and options.  We make the soundest decisions we can based on our best information.  Then we act.

Our elected officials cannot seem to do that for us on a grander scale.  They haggle about what is the greater good and propose action based on their own best outcomes not ours.  So why should we listen?  It should be no wonder that we turn off the news and turn to other more interesting life activities.  Our interests are not served by most of them in most situations anyway, so why torture ourselves with the blah, blah, blah.

I applaud Sen. Bernie Sanders. I-VT,  for pressing that the American people need to be involved more than ever before, and I even agree with him on so many levels.  But forgive me if I decide to watch a juggler on “America’s Got Talent” or Letterman riding down a New York City street with Harrison Ford to promote a new movie or almost anything but subjecting myself to endless diatribes by folks who really don’t care much what happens to me and my family.  I am not an idiot, and I do not have time to be treated like one.

I do not care if one candidate has migraines and another has Jesus in the back pocket.  I care if my life is made better, more safe, more fair, more calm, more reasonable.

If you all want to engage me, do something that makes my life better, more promising – secure future opportunity for my children and grandchildren.  Protect the economy for all of us not just your campaign contributors.  And for goodness sakes, stop assuming working families should make time for your concerns and arguments when you’ve sold us out so many times already.  We wanted a cleaner, safer, environment and a sounder, more sane fiscal policy and a more humane healthcare system.  What we got was the never ending cycle of political wrangling that is boring and unchanging – blah, blah, blah.

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