It seems as if everyone has an opinion on the United States government these days. I guess news of a partial government shutdown will tend to get people a little stirred up. Depending on who you’re listening to, this is all the fault of either the Democrats, the Republicans, Barack Obama, or Alex Rodriguez (because, as we all know, everything that is wrong with America is the fault of A-Rod). A few brave souls are contending this could be, might be the fault of Democrats, Republicans, and Barack Obama put together, but these people are obviously naive of how American politics work, because everyone knows the collective whole of government can never be responsible for anything.
O, government, to what shall I compare thee? Sometimes you remind me of that always-down-on-their-luck family member who shows up every few months wanting to borrow a few bucks. I should know better than to give it to you, but you seem so genuine that things are going to be different this time. You promise me you’ll put it to good use, and, like a fool, I believe you. Then you show up at my door one night in a panic because you’ve not only blown the money I gave you, you lost it in a high-stakes card game in Vegas and now the mob is going to break your kneecaps if you don’t come up with another wad of cash by daybreak. “This is the last time I’ll ever do this,” you say, knowing full well it won’t be the last time you ever do this, but also knowing I’ll help you out again because, gosh darn it, I believe you can turn your life around.
At other times, you remind me of a pair of petulant children attempting to play in the same sandbox together. You get along fine for a while, and you even manage to create some pretty neat stuff with your hands, shovels, and buckets. Everything seems just perfect … until someone wants the other one’s dump truck. That dump truck is not going to be given up easily, and pretty soon you find yourselves sitting at opposite corners of the box, refusing to apologize or attempt to work out any sort of compromise. This stalemate continues until one of you decides to give up and go home. A week or so will pass before you come back to that same sandbox, and tensions will have faded … until that dump truck comes out again…
And then sometimes you appear to be a helicopter parent, wagging your finger in the face of your children for eating too much sugar while you munch on a Hershey bar. You tell us what to eat, what we need to consider to be important, how we should teach our children, who we should and shouldn’t trust, and what moral principles we should embrace. I get the feeling sometimes you would tell us what clothes to wear every day if you could just figure out how to pass a national dress code without alienating Johnny Depp. You don’t seem to believe we could possibly make wise, intelligent choices on our own, so you work extra hard to always be there to remind us we have no idea what is best for us and that you do.
And then there are times when you get it right. I mean, you get it really, really right. You listen to your constituencies. You create opportunities for those who otherwise wouldn’t have any. You defend those who need defending. You stand with us in our time of need. You negotiate and reach solutions. You remind us why America is such a great place to live, and you make us thankful for what we have.
Get it right, government. You may not be perfect, but you’re all we’ve got. We need you.