Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It’s About Change

Wow, what an election; what a roller coaster ride. The excitement, the scares, the thrills are over and both the politicians and the public are back on earth. The time of yelling and screaming, of laughing and crying, of eyes wide open and eyes tightly shut ended. We must return to the real world and get to work.

In both South Dakota and the America, the people sent a strong message to our politicians. The message’s content is not a secret but I fear that our elected officials will not understand the message. The people voted for Change! Rather than continue playing the gotcha politics of the past, we want our government to work. Politicians need to find common ground. We want our elected officials to address the numerous problems facing families and Main Street. We want solutions that everyone can see and understand. We do not want secret deals to buy the votes. When the President tells us that Congressional committee hearings on health care should be held on C-Span, we expect that to happen. When the Speaker of the House tells us that any bill relating to an issue will be online for everyone to examine for at least 72 hours prior to their voting, we cannot understand why that simple promise does not happen.

The problems facing our country are enormous. Maybe they are too large to expect our government to solve. The number one issue is the economy. (Remember from past elections, “It’s the economy, stupid!”) Well having thrown trillions of dollars at the problem, unemployment stands at 10 percent. Economists are talking about a double-dip recession. Rather than calling the opposition ideas idiotic or dead on arrival, maybe both sides should sit down and seriously attempt to address the problem.

Health care is next. I already see that the Republicans are stating that they are going to repeal it. My opinion is that is not what the American people want. We want a system that is affordable and understandable. If the Republican leadership believes they can just throw it out, they got the wrong message. Even if a House bill were to pass the Senate which is doubtful, President Obama would certainly veto it. Why not examine what we passed this year and fix it to what the people want. To do that, Republicans and Democrats must work together. Talk about change. Can you imagine that happening?

My next issue is the deficit. Working class Americans understand the notion of a balanced budget. We understand that we cannot continue to borrow and borrow and borrow. We are leaving a huge burden on our children and future generations. Together our politicians must examine our budget figure out how to get back to balance and then to pay down our debt.

Lastly and the one issue who long term impacts our country the greatest is education. Like all of the other problems listed and those that are not, this one truly seems unsolvable. We have so many causes or maybe excuses as to why we cannot make our education system the absolute best in the world. We are losing out to so many countries that do not have the resources that we have. The big difference is they understand that education is the great equalizer. America, both the people and our leaders need to get that message.

We have a great deal of work to do in the next 2 years. If you listen to the political rhetoric of the campaign trail and even last night, our politicians admit that we have tremendous challenges but they tell us that we are bigger than them. If our legislature and executive branches do not meet them head on and soon, in 2012 we will likely see a new group of politicians heading to our state and national capitols.

To those who won yesterday, congratulations. Enjoy the euphoria of the ride that you just took for a day or two. Then get to work with an understanding that you represent more people than those who voted for you. The problems we face confront all of us. Those who voted for you and those who voted for someone else are proud of our democracy. We still have hope in our system of government. We hope for change in the way business is done. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, this is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That would certainly be a change.

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