Un-Dividing a Divided Washington

The State of the Union message was already trashed and tossed before the president spoke on Tuesday night. My frustration with Washington dysfunction grew a little more. I tell myself that somewhere are Senators and Representatives who have the interest of all of us in their hearts. I see glimmers here and there where people work across the aisle. More often, I see good efforts fail when some type of consensus has been reached, but dropped when one constituency or another doesn’t like the proposal. I wrote these words in 2015 when it was President Obama giving the State of the Union message.

Little has changed in the workings of Washington since then, except divisions have gotten worse in the past four years. A divided nation became more divided.

If I had my say in Washington’s behavior, there would be a sit down mediator dishing out orders to both get along and start taking the best ideas on both sides of the political spectrum and come up with a plan of action. There would be fewer appearances on Sunday talk shows demeaning the other party and more joint appearances with bipartisan ideas on resolving issues. There would be less name calling and more kindness. I might have everyone go over the rules set in an average kindergarten class, with heavy emphasis on treating others the way they’d like to be treated. “Always smile and be kind to others. Respect both yourself and others.”

I might give a required seminar on listening to the other, with a healthy dose of conflict resolution. I’d use a marriage counseling method of brainstorming until a common solution could be found. I would do some team building exercises that forced people from the other side to sit around a small table and talk civilly to each other. I’d have them each learn about the  other and why that person  believes as they do. I would include the current president in those lessons.

Clearly I’m not the only person who wishes that Washington would work, not just better, but actually work for the good of all people. I’d require votes on legislation passed by the House in the Senate. Likewise I’d insist that the House vote on bills passed by the Senate. I’d try to instill in Washington’s leadership, the Biblical values often spoken of, by not so often followed. I’d insist that every Senator and Representative who has Christian beside their name spend some time reading the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and use them as a frame of reference when decisions are made on immigration policy, taxes, the safety network, and Social Security. I’d remind elected Christian leaders how Jesus said that whatever we have done or not done, for the least of God’s children, it is as if we were responding to him. I’d point out that people at our southern border are included as God’s children.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  Matthew 25:37-40