By John Balmer, Bob Elliott and Bob Roelf
Representing all three major components (Democrat, Independent, Republican) of our national political scene, we share anger about the senseless government shutdown resulting from continuing dysfunction in our nation’s capital.
We’ve been betrayed by people we elected to represent us at the highest level of government. Unfortunately, we find they’re interested primarily in supporting party ideology and gearing up for their next election.
Compromise has been replaced by confrontation in the new normal for Congress. And that places in jeopardy not only our nation’s economy, security, and reputation, but also threatens the health and welfare of all citizens. All this while members of Congress watch from the sidelines, with their income, health insurance, and retirement benefits safely protected by laws they enacted.
Following are brief summaries of our personal reactions:
l John Balmer (Republican): “I’m disturbed by the apparent unwillingness of Democrat and Republican leadership to engage in meaningful discussions of their differences. The strident voices of no compromise from a small segment of my party doesn’t send a good message to the American people.
“Cooler heads must prevail to avert our country going off a fiscal cliff. Do I believe the Affordable Care Act needs substantial corrective measures? Absolutely. But not at the expense of shutting down the government and needlessly endangering our financial recovery.
“Speaker Boehner has stated he won’t allow the government to default on its obligations. I expect him to honor that pledge.”
l Bob Elliott (Democrat): “Congress has become increasingly dysfunctional, and now members have immersed themselves in a childish form of ideological chicken. Herded by radical leadership into non-negotiable corners, they act like spoiled second-graders fighting in a sand box.
“I’m disappointed in President Obama, for whom I voted twice, and disturbed about virtually everyone in both houses of Congress. Many of them may have been good people, but they apparently fell victim to a bizarre form of ‘Potomac fever’ upon arriving in the nation’s capital.
“The only answer appears to be in the form of constitutional amendments.”
l Bob Roelf (Independent): “I think most people are fed up with the behavior of Congress and the president in their budget battle. It appears both Democrats and Republicans are spoiling for a fight in a juvenile attempt to make each other look bad.
“But everyone gets dirty in a mud fight. So there are no winners in this mess. It’s time for our elected representatives to act responsibly and find productive common ground. Our president should take the lead in getting it done.
“We can settle our scores in the 2014 and 2016 elections.”
Of the people we’ve elected to run our national government, how many do you suppose have made their highest priority to “….form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare….”
About 250 years ago, our Founding Fathers spent a long hot summer in Philadelphia putting together a blueprint for the finest government the world has ever known. Now our elected officials are kicking dirt all over those hopes and dreams.
Is there anyone or any group anywhere with the wherewithal to lead a successful charge for constitutional amendments necessary to overcome what’s happening to our government? We need to set the same term limits for members of Congress that were instituted more than a half century ago for the president. And another amendment establishing a reasonable code of conduct for members of Congress, aimed at assuring they operate the government, not derail it.
The co-authors are longtime Iowa City residents. John Balmer is co-owner-operator of 62-year-old Plumbers Supply Company. Bob Elliott is retired from ACT Inc., National Office. Bob Roelf is retired from National Computer System/Pearson, Iowa City office. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org