Politics And The Public Good

Reading a recent piece by John Harwood about some of the current haggling between the White House and the Capitol, I couldn’t help a sense of déjà vu. “Much as Republicans may dislike Mr. Obama and his policies, a Democratic president can provide them a measure of political cover,” the article said. Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman is quoted with “if we wait until 2017, (referring to the 2014 and 2016 elections) which in essence is what they’re (referring to republicans in Congress) saying, I think we’re taking a huge risk.” What strikes me again and again when I read such articles is how contemporary politics determines the outcome of national issues. Today, politicians, like journalists, have to master the way politics is being used or else not be able to make their way in Washington. Immigration, the budget impasse, the affordable Care Act, the future of Medicare, tax reforms or whatever scandal is the talk of the town, all have to pass through the filters of politics. And the rest of us are asked to believe that if we don’t understand or accept the role of politics, we’re naifs and dreamers. Well then, let me be a naïf and a dreamer, because I believe that the public good ought to matter, and has to be factored in. As it has come to be practiced, politics so distorts what is good for the country, for citizens and for the world, that politicians steeped in the needed games and rhetoric too often no longer recognize the public good they are meant to uphold. They may give it lip service, but it does not seem to be foreground on their agenda. When are we going to say to those we elect, enough, enough of politics as usual.