We hope — and demand — our leaders act

Explaining how he got involved in politics, Maine's newly elected U.S. senator left us with a telling quote when he visited our offices several weeks ago.

"I like people, I like ideas and I like getting things done," former Gov. Angus King told the Sun Journal's editorial board.

While we are certain King alone cannot change Washington, we wish his philosophy was shared by more elected leaders.

Our nation faces a daunting list of challenges, from a slow-growing economy to a frightening national debt to broken health care and educational systems.

But the ideas and new approaches are out there, if only our president and Congress are willing to think more creatively and daringly than they have over the past four years.

Like King, they should be compelled by this love of country and its people, not by their blind loyalty to special-interest politics and allegiance to the most angry and rigid ideologues on the political extremes.

And they must be compelled by the burning desire and urgency of getting things done ... and soon.

The first test will come immediately, as the lame-duck Congress is forced to deal with the ominous "fiscal cliff" before the first of the year.

There is no time left for gridlock or kicking the can down the road.

Without quick and decisive action, American families will suddenly find themselves paying much higher taxes, and government will be forced to enact large, automatic cuts to our military and social services.

If the newly elected president and Congress heard anything during the campaign from the large majority of Americans, it was of a burning desire for them to work together and make rational compromises to move our nation off dead center.

The last Congress may have been the most unproductive in history. For the U.S. Senate, it was one break and vacation, while failing to solve a single meaningful problem.

The misguided belief shared by both parties was to wait until after the Nov. 6 election in hopes of sweeping the election and forcing their entire agenda upon their vanquished foes.

Well, the American people have opted instead to continue the status quo of divided government, and wisely so.

In a closely divided nation, the best ideas and programs — and importantly, the most widely supported — will be those that emerge from compromise.

But a willingness to give and take has been entirely absent for the past four years and perhaps even longer.

That cannot be blamed entirely on President Barack Obama, although he showed a frustrating incapacity to gain the trust of or to work productively with his Republican adversaries in Congress.

Meanwhile, Republicans clearly employed the politics of obstruction over the past year, more content to block progress than to enact policies conservatives have traditionally favored, all to deny the president even the appearance of success.

It has been a paralyzingly destructive year. Our country has marked time as many of our problems have only worsened.

But circumstances have changed. Now both parties and their leaders must be willing to put aside their absolutes.

A very good starting point would be to return to the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The commission proposed a broad range of pain for all, including a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts designed to put our fiscal house in order.

Anyone who says that could be done without sacrifice, by simply taxing the rich or without tax hikes, is bluntly delusional.

The election is over, and this is always a time of great hope and expectation.

But hope and expectation are not a plan. As Americans, we must demand more — much more — of the leaders we have now elected.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Is it only me?

As a country we are split right down the middle. Both sides gain ground, and lose ground from election to election; with no apparent reason, regardless of all the chattering heads who want to declare victory and the high ground.

It appears we no longer have guiding principles, bedrock values in our country. We twist in the wind, following every tick in a poll.

I thought the tragedy of 9-11 would certainly unite us against the evil in the world, and it did for awhile until the squabbling for power began once again.

We are split down the middle with the trump card going to the "undecided."

God save us all.

It's a shame!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What we have today is the

What we have today is the result of unsound minds outnumbering rational minds in numbers sufficient to affect the outcomes of elections. There is no reason to think this trend will change anytime soon.
9/11 did unite us for about 6 weeks and then it went back to business as usual. If there is a second attack of that magnitude, it is likely that some "Americans" will be cheering for the attackers. Once again, unsound minds will prevail.
I don'k know about you, but I feel like a stranger in a foreign land.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They will act....like idiots.

They will act....like idiots.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Good editorial

In 2010 no one knew the Tea Party candidates. They got to know many of them in the last 2 years and threw them out for their extremism and obstruction. Should the Republican Party fail to learn the lessons of this election, they will become a regional party in 2016 and a paragraph in the history books by 2020.
We need action and we need it now before January 1. Tax increase for the rich (they pay less than 1/4 of what they did under President Eisenhower.). Adjust Social Security and Medicare within the current system of payroll taxes and benefits so that they are secure for the next 75 years. Cut military spending. We have for many decades spent more than most of the rest of the world on the military. Cut corporate welfare to the bone by eliminating all tax expenditures (even the ones I like). A principle of government should be that no special benefit should be granted to a corporation unless the private sector has failed to address the issue and the corporation or industry is vital to the national interest and then only for as long as these two conditions exist. Break up the Banks. Dodd-Frank is too weak. 5 or 6 banks have proved irresponsible to the point of threatening the country. If they are too big to fail; they are too big to exist.
Do it now.

Steve  Dosh's picture

We hope — and demand — our leaders act

ed. 12.11.06 21:30 hst Tuesday still
Good editorial . We hope — and demand — our leaders act wisely ?
Government inaction and irrational obstruction is a choice , Republicans , as is , " Just say no ." It is a proven losing strategy
Health care ( Obamacare ® ) is a done deal and is thankfully going into full effect
Rational , humane , and just immigration reform is on the horizon . We are all sons and daughters of immigrants ( except our original American Mic-mac , Abenaki , Passmoquoddy & Penobscot tribal cousins :)
Like the President just said ( and i paraphrase ) , " People are still dying to get in . No one is dying to get out ." God please bless this union and keep us safe from all enemies , both foreign and domestic
/s , Dr. Steve Dosh , Foreign Service Officer ( ret .)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You left out the part about

You left out the part about being fluent in 5 languages.

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