The 113th Congress has a major project. It’s a feat unimaginable, one that can not be obtained by one person, nor two, nor three, but all 535 congressmen and women, the vice president, the president’s Cabinet, the Supreme Court justices, and, most importantly, the president. This task is to run a country that currently has 17.6 trillion dollars of debt and that has college graduates with an average of $29,400 of debt. A country full of people earning the same amount as they did in the 1990s, without taking inflation into account, and people not earning the same amount as someone else doing the same work based on race, gender, or ethnicity. These are major problems that our leaders must face and deal with if the United States is to be successful in this century, but in order to do so, both sides must respect the other.
In President Obama’s weekly address on July 12th, he told Congress to “do something” and blamed the lack of work on the Republicans in Congress who hold a majority in the House of Representatives. In doing so, he turned to the innate urge to blame someone. Now, I’m not saying that the Republicans are innocent, because they aren’t. But to accuse them as the only part of the issue is to ignore the truth. Both sides and their reluctance to compromise cause the sludge-like lack of progress seen in Washington. In the past week, 73 House Bills, 31 Senate Bills, 11 House Resolutions, and 4 Senate Resolutions were presented. How can that be considered nothing? And although it isn’t exactly what Obama wants, they are about important issues such as human trafficking and tax relief for major disaster areas. It takes two to tango, and although it seems that one is more at fault than the other, neither is willing to step up and compromise to get something done.
President Obama also showed an extreme disrespect for his fellow office holders in the same video when he laughed at the Republican plan to sue him. Boehner is suing on the point that Obama has overstepped his executive authority by making changes to Obamacare without Congress’ approval. Yes, it does seem a bit extreme. And yes, it will waste American time and use tax dollars, just as the Starr Report in the mid-1990s surrounding the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal cost taxpayers 70 million dollars. But laughing off the people he leads? That is disconcerting. He may not agree with their decision to sue, nor the grounds on which they choose to do so, but they do have the right and it should be taken seriously. In order to lead, you must respect the opponent and they must respect you. Without mutual respect, it is impossible to make progress, especially the progress necessary to fix all of America’s problems.
So, instead of asking Congress to “do something,” I would ask Congress to “respect and compromise.” Don’t forfeit your views and your values, but compromise somewhere in the middle. Stop being preoccupied with election season and do your job. Work on education, the basis for everything else, and pass Obama’s highway bill by the end of summer to help create jobs and facilitate better transportation. We can continue our increase in jobs and betterment of the economy. Congress, please focus on making change so that the United States will flourish.
You can watch President Obama’s July 12th weekly address here.
“Expanding Opportunity — It’s Time for Congressional Republicans to Do Their Part.” YouTube. The White House, 12 July 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.
LoGiurato, Brett. “OBAMA: My Highway Plan Is ‘Not Crazy, It’s Not Socialism, It’s Not The Imperial Presidency'” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 01 July 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.
“New Bills in Congress.” POPVOX. OPVOX, n.d. Web. 14 July 2014.
Payne, Sebastian. “Republicans v. Obama — and Other times the President Has Been Sued.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 11 July 2014. Web. 14 July 2014.
“State by State Data.” Project on Student Debt:. The Institute for College Access & Success, n.d. Web. 14 July 2014.