I normally post my weekly blog on Mondays, but I have been sitting on this post for a few days to collect my thoughts and ensure I am cautious about my words. We'll see if it worked. Like many Americans, I have been monitoring Congress' progress on passing a budget for the current fiscal year and the next. I woke up in the middle of the night on Friday (having gone to bed before hearing whether we reached even a short-term deal) and asked my husband if we still had a government. After being assured we did, I began to wonder whether it really mattered.
Yes, I know it matters to government employees. Yes, I know it matters to the image of the US. Yes, I know it matters to those who might have been impacted by a shut-down (though I have yet to hear what the actual impact would be if Washington shut down).
When I ask whether it really matters, I am speaking from the perspective of leadership. Over the last few weeks, I have been equally discouraged by the leadership of both parties - Democrats suggesting if we accept Republican proposals seniors will be eating cat food and Republicans accusing the Democrats of abdicating their responsibility to pass a budget when they had majority in both the House and the Senate. The "scare tactics" and "blame games" are failures of leadership in my opinion.
I understand the men and women who are elected also have the pressure of running for office again (and "scare tactics" and "blame games" secure attention, and potentially, some votes), but while they are serving their current term, I believe their greater responsibility is to govern - to lead. If our elected representatives used the time they spend delivering interviews on Fox News, CNN, CBS, ABC, CNBC, and other media affiliates to sit at a table with each other and look at the budget and all ancillary issues, I think they could have resolved this situation much sooner.
Of course, all officials who appear on my television screen claim a "mandate from the people" as the reason for their stance. While I agree to some degree, if they intend to play that card, I would prefer for my representatives to ask me what I think rather than assume I believe EXACTLY what they do about a particular issue. In most instances, I vote for a person that I believe will demonstrate good judgment and leadership, not a platform. I expect those men and women to look at the issues at hand and make a decision based on values and sound governance principles, not agendas - even the agendas of those who elected them. I expect leadership and I hope I start seeing some of it soon.