I woke up this morning to the news that the super-committee failed to reach a deal. I’m fairly certain many (not in Washington) predicted this would be the case. The Monday morning quarterbacks all have their reasons for why it was destined to fail. I watched this morning as a Democrat blamed Republicans and later a Republican blamed the Democrats. That’s not entirely new, I know. But what was most annoying about that exchange was the host asked a question, got a rote response, then moved on.
No follow up. No, “where’s your evidence?” No, “Seriously?!?”
In a marriage when there is a break up both sides blame each other. The friends pick sides (of those they were already friends with) and recite the “talking points” as given to them by either the husband or wife. The problem is, in a relationship that dissolves, absent abuse or cheating, it’s both your faults.
People don’t like to hear this, but it’s true. If you’re in a relationship and it doesn’t work out, you are partly to blame.
Republicans and Democrats should understand this. Yes, I’m saying Republicans and Democrats are like a bitter married couple and we’re they’re friends who picked sides. With the vitriol you hear from both sides, you’d think we had a contentious divorce. So what’s the solution? More introspective honesty.
The question I’d like to hear at every debate is, “What are 3 things you see wrong with your party, and what are you doing to fix it?” Every candidate must answer and none are allowed to cop-out. Also, none are allowed to blame the other party.
In my business life, and a little in my personal life, I try to follow this. I try every week to be better, know more, than the week before. I look at what I consider wrong in my business or personal life, and then try to find ways to do better. I’ve done the obvious like work out more (I can now do more pull-ups than I’ve ever done in my life!) and eat better (maybe pizza every week isn’t a great diet). In business, I’ve found inefficiencies and then found solutions. These are not things you can do if you see yourself as perfect.
I’m not a pessimist (not anymore). I don’t sit around all day obsessing over my flaws, but when I find one or something comes up, I don’t dismiss it as some random factor. I believe I’m great at my job. I just think I can do better. I see how much time X is taking me and think, is there a faster way? Is there a software solution I don’t know about? Then I research and implement. But, as they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
Democrats and Republicans have a problem. They want to win elections more than solve problems. (Though I believe that Democrats did offer more and more politically costly compromises – Medicare, Social Security – than Republicans – won’t even consider tax increases – but then I’m a liberal and that might be why.) Both sides accused the other of wanting this to fail so they could win the next election. My favorite part of an interview is when either side accuses the other of “playing politics”. You know that by bringing up the issue on television you’re “playing politics”.
None of this is going to change, and it’s only going to get worse, if we don’t force change from them. Making candidates, and politicians, talk about their faults, as opposed to pointing out their faults to them, is one simple solution. It would force them to be honest with themselves and with us, and that could lead to real change and solutions. At least for a while.