Washington foolishness must end

Published 12:02 am Sunday, April 10, 2011

What happened to the America of long ago? That was the America in which as a child, we felt we were invincible and anything was possible.

It was the country in which statesmen seemed to lead the country — at least in our minds.

Once upon a time, the granite lined streets of Washington, D.C., and its citizen representatives stirred a sense of civic pride.

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Now, a gaze toward the antics in the District of Columbia turns faces into scowls and sense of disgust overwhelms.

Nasty politics in our country is nothing new. Some of the earliest, most revered (at least by the history books) of the founding fathers were exquisite slingers of political fecal matter.

Perhaps people back in the early days of our country’s existence felt a similar level of disappointment and disgust.

It’s difficult to imagine.

How on earth can anyone in today’s world have much respect for the current lot of House and Senate members?

The disgust is bi-partisan in nature.

Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for the mess that led to countdown clocks and a nation wondering if the federal government’s lack of leadership was so pathetic as to let itself grind to a halt because of a disagreement over a relatively tiny amount of money.

By Friday morning the alleged differences between what the Democrats wanted and what the Republicans wanted was approximately $5 billion.

Weeks and weeks of negotiations and the government was on the brink of complete shutdown over $5 billion.

While to you and me, $5 billion is insane money. That’s Donald Trump change.

In the scope of the entire federal budget, it’s a fraction of a drop in the proverbial bucket.

In fractions, the $5 billion impasse equated to five one-thousandths of the annual budget.

To lop off a few zeros to put the figure into a non-Trump-like state, consider this.

If the entire federal budget were a house in Natchez and the house was worth $100,000, they’d be arguing over a $500 difference.

Five hundred bucks is worth arguing about, at least a little. But how many homebuyers would walk away from buying a house over $500?

To bring the issue down even further, let’s consider $100 in groceries, the argument would be over 50 cents.

To shut down the government would be fine if “the government” just included Congress. Unfortunately, without the last-minute move on Friday night, Congress would have kept working while some simple government “good things” would have been shuttered.

Among those good things is something filmmaker Ken Burns dubbed “America’s Best Idea” — the national parks.

Natchez is fortunate enough to have one of these parks in our backyard.

Perhaps the second greatest idea America will have is to realize that the foolishness in Washington must end.

How uninspiring must it be for the children of the world to look toward the U.S. Capitol and see such a lack of leadership?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.