02/07/06 — Charades: Bickering takes the place of true political backbone

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Charades: Bickering takes the place of true political backbone

The problem with government these days is that its leaders do not seem to understand that they cannot have it both ways.

They want a nation that is protected from terrorists, and goverment officials to know in advance before a devastating attack hits the nation’s major cities — but they are not willing to approve the measures necessary to get that information.

So, they argue, bicker and otherwise grandstand against an eavesdropping program that could make sure that suspected terrorist contacts cannot speak freely if they are within U.S. borders, while still maintaining that Americans’ safety is their first priority.

They want a lower deficit, yet when the time comes to look at the budget, they refuse to make the tough decisions necessary to curb spending, fearing they might upset a special interest group or a core constituency group.

So, a lot of people make speeches, but no one makes a decision because the fallout is too potentially damaging.

They complain that the government does not adequately support the troops who are waging the war in Iraq, but they react angrily when a proposal is made to increase the spending on the efforts there.

They want a swift end to the war in Iraq and American security at home and abroad, but they are not willing to make the commitment to see the war on terrorism through and to provide for the aftercare in the region. They refuse to understand that the problems in the Middle East are not just going to magically disappear if U.S. and coalition troops pull up stakes and return home.

There has been a lot of criticism lately about undue influences on politicians in North Carolina and across the nation. Lobbyists, campaign finance reform and new ethics rules seem to be lightning rods for discussion these days.

But what really makes political discourse today so curious and so often ineffectual is that no one really wants to say what they think — and many of the most important decisions made in Washington these days are focused more on poll numbers than on what is best for the country.

In other words, backbone and conviction seem to be in short supply for some members of both parties.

And, sometimes, we don’t want to hear the truth, either.

It is time to look hard at some of the priorities for this nation as it heads full-steam into 2006 and to make a few firm stands about what we really want. If it is security and a lower deficit, we need to look at the new budget bill and the eavesdropping issue with those goals in mind.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t question, cajole and otherwise push for strict rules and real answers. It just means it is time to give our lawmakers a clear direction for what we want for the future of our nation.

Maybe if we take a stand, there just might be fewer speeches in Washington and more real reform for the future.

We’ll see.

Published in Editorials on February 7, 2006 9:57 AM