ALPERN AT LARGE - After a bitter and divisive national election cycle, which has left half of the nation feeling victorious and the other half feeling downtrodden, our nation now marches head-first into yet another two crises that threaten to rip this nation apart:
the deficit/debt fight on Capitol Hill and the fight over gun control and mental health issues after the Newtown Massacre.
As much as either side of the political aisle might feel as if they’ve “won” the country, or the other side has “lost” the country, partisanship on either side makes about as much sense as does partisanship in a marriage. No successful country (or marriage) will survive if one side fails to respect and appreciates the other—and unfortunately, we’ve got plenty of troublemakers on both sides of the political aisle that would just as soon crush, humiliate and exile the other.
(Of course, I’ve got my own bias, being married to a beautiful woman on the other side of the political aisle—so I appreciate the need to debate the issues as much as I recognize that, in the end, any debate usually leaves us wondering why the debate was necessary because we were pretty much on the same page to begin with.)
● So whether it’s the “fiscal cliff” or the Newtown Massacre, the differences of the left from the right should center on ideology and an interpretation of what the Bill of Rights and the Constitution mean, but too often these differences devolve into political points to be made at the expense of the “other side” which, as aforementioned, usually hurts the country as a whole.
● So as the questions of whether one side or another has compassion or intelligence keep being raised, usually the claim of “YOU MUST HATE CHILDREN!” sooner or later comes up to detract and distract from the rightful adult discussions and consensus building necessary to achieve the best compromise for all parties concerned.
● So as the “fiscal cliff” draws nigh, the questions surrounding what sort of revenue raising or spending cuts are needed get lost amid a political cowardice in Washington
--which reflects the cowardice on both Wall Street and Main Street to do the right thing and stop the annual deficits and burgeoning debt which, being ignored, should truly give us pause as to whether either side is focusing on those who will inherit our debt: our children and grandchildren.
● So as we must wrap our brains around the unspeakable horror that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, the need to focus on the nonsense promulgated by one side or the other to make political points must give way to the fact that we’ve got to be both realistic on what the Second Amendment means, as well as realistic on what limits the “rights” of the mentally ill are (particularly if they come at the expense of defenseless and innocent children).
In other words, those who presume that one side of the political aisle HATES children are most likely the ones who merit the most scrutiny, since I’ve not met many mainstream Democrats or Republicans who wear horns and tails and carry pitchforks, or who wake up in the morning fixing to do some serious harm to someone.
I’ve met left-wing crazies and right-wing wackos who, living in their own little worlds, calmly accept that innocent people must suffer “for the greater good”, but most individuals who paid attention in history class (and who, presumably and hopefully, were taught history by teachers who strove to present all sides of the issues) realize that socialism, communism, fascism and laissez faire regimes and policies inevitably lead to extraordinary suffering.
We don’t need crazies and wackos—we need leaders who will tell us what we must hear, and not what we want to hear, and who will recognize the merit of both sides of a debate rather than demonize one side or the other.
I’ve opined before on CityWatch that maybe it’s best for the nation that we jump off the “fiscal cliff”
, and I’m happy to do it again, if it’s the only way Americans can get that needed splash of cold water into our collective face in order to pay our bills and tighten our belts…together, as a nation and as an extended family.
Similarly, the cold, hard reality of our budgetary pain centers around an American population that is living longer, but which is choosing to have future generations pay for OUR debt instead of US personally or publicly saving for ourselves and our families.
Perhaps the debate over extending the age of Social Security and/or Medicare eligibility to 67 years-old (LINK: http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/medicare/273569-overnight-health) can and should be postponed until next year, but that problem isn’t going away. Neither is the painful fact that saving on runaway health care costs is as vital for our economic future as is becoming a population willing to do what’s right to enact those savings.
Increasing the payroll taxes for Medicare for all income earners, demanding that Medicaid recipients be placed into government-supervised and privately-run managed care plans, initiating and enforcing innovative ways to keep both branded and generic drugs lower, reimbursing providers in a manner which rewards healthy outcomes, etc. are ideas as necessary to keep seniors healthy as they are necessary to keep our economy healthy.
Similarly, non-military individuals do not have the right to own machine guns, but the needs to define “assault rifles” and focus on what we “feel” is needed (versus what has actually worked) is equally important in keeping both the Second Amendment and our public safety intact.
And while we’re at it, do we have the courage to acknowledge that, like sexual predators, there are some mental health rights and responsibilities that society must confront as it revisits the freedom of potentially-dangerous individuals to avoid monitoring, avoid taking necessary medication, or even avoid institutionalization to ensure public safety?
So let’s just presume that both liberals and conservatives, and both Democrats and Republicans, love children and therefore merit our collective support.
And if we must separate “the good guys” from “the bad guys” with respect to “loving our children”, then let’s separate opportunistic political cowards from courageous statesmanlike leaders…because clearly those individuals who exemplify love for America’s children are the men and women who dare to take the adult approach to our modern-day, complex, adult problems.
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)
Vol 10 Issue 102
Pub: Dec 21, 2012