- Cullman, Alabama

October 18, 2013

Not much really changed

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — As the dust settled from a 16-day debacle on Capitol Hill, federal workers quietly streamed back to work. The politicians who caused the mess simply went right back to trading barbs and jockeying for voter affection.

The end of the federal shutdown accomplished nothing in the political future. Democrats and Republicans are already dueling and fast headed to another showdown in the new year that promises to do as much harm as this round.

According to various polls, Republicans generally took a beating from voters over the shutdown. The perception is that the Grand Old Party went too far. While not everyone in the party agreed with the move, the perception came across as negative on a wide scale.

Democrats may well find themselves with their backs against the wall, too, particularly if the national health care initiative proves to be overly flawed and expensive. By the time the elections arrive, a lot more will be known about President Obama’s signature plan.

As a consequence, the fighting will not come to an end on Capitol Hill for a long time. Around the world, nations will look at the United States as a house that is truly troubled, if not deeply divided. And while American politics has always been volatile, to a degree, the intensity and unrelenting positions of this wave of federal legislators is alarming. The ability to compromise or use restraint at critical times is absent when the country most needs a sense of statesmanship.

Presidents and lawmakers of recent history had a knack for coming together when something important needed to be accomplished. That great American spirit, once so valuable and effective in Washington, has fallen away. As another year of elections approaches, voters would may well demand that the next generation to inhabit Congress serve with the resolve to represent the country, not the idealistic platitudes of their fading political parties.