Saturday, May 25, 2024

We Are in Scary Times

Halloween is a holiday for both children and adults. It warmed my heart to see my younger grandchildren get excited about getting dressed up and going “trick or treating.” My older grandchildren remember the Halloweens when I would scare them by taking them to visit old graveyards on Halloween night. Being scared was part of the excitement of the night and you knew you could always escape to the safety of the car or your home.

Today, I am scared for a different reason. I worry about the future of our country and the problems we are leaving our children and grandchildren. The debt, which is approaching $34 trillion, will affect their lives and standard of living for their lifetimes. The President and Congress seem unwilling or incapable of not only addressing the problem but even understanding the seriousness of the issue.

Democrats and Liberals are quick to blame the Conservative movement for causing gridlock and being irrational in their demands to face the problem while it can be fixed. This is a classic case of “shooting the messenger” if they have bad news. The difference between the liberal Democrats and some of the “old guard“ Republicans is the sense of urgency and how much time we have to address the problem before we pass the point of no return.

In our history we have always had differences of opinion between the Senate and the House of Representatives. Our founding fathers set up this form of government to promote differences of opinion between the Senate and the House and reach compromise. That is why the term for Congress is 2 years for the House, in which they expected turnover for fresh ideas, and the 6-year term for the Senate, which would bring experience to the process.  They expected compromise in the budget deliberations, not of no budgets and just a series of continuing resolutions that kick the can further down the road with no resolution.

The real problem does not lie in the Congress but in the leadership or lack of leadership from the President. The position of President, as envisioned by our founding fathers, was to provide leadership to get Congress to a compromise solution for the overall good for the country.

We have had several Presidents in recent history who were adept at this and led our country through wars, economic downturns, and significant global threats. The ones that come to mind are Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton. They were skillful at working with both sides of the aisle to come to a consensus solution for major problems even though they did not always get everything they wanted. President Reagan even had a saying that defined how he operated as President: “You would be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Unfortunately, President Biden doesn’t have the skill or the will to take a leadership role as these former Presidents had. As George Will, noted columnist, recently wrote: “America has had some great Presidents, many mediocre ones and a few bad ones. But we have never had one like President Biden.  He’s the first who turns political give-and-take into a crisis by refusing to negotiate with Congress.”

My concern is that at this time in our country’s history the stakes are much higher and the potential for true disaster both internally and externally is much greater. Our country is on a path much like the ill-fated ship Titanic. People feel that we can survive anything and that we are “unsinkable.” The Captain of our ship is ignoring the signs and proceeding full-speed ahead despite warnings from the crew. We have time to turn the ship but only if we act now. At some point we won’t have the time and will suffer the same fate as the Titanic.

I have been fearful about our country only one other time in my life, and that was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. We were close to war with Russia and we all felt the world as we knew it could end at any minute. Fortunately we had a leader in John Kennedy who led us through that crisis. We don’t have that leader now and that truly scares me.

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