A political game of chicken

By Paul Moomjean 10/24/2013

When I was a kid, I can remember playing a popular pool game called “chicken,” a riotous teamwork game involving one team of two against another team of two. Each team would have one person in the water and the other teammate on his or her shoulders, the objective being for the top player to push over the other top man. It was fun, but there was a real strategy. If you struck too early, you’d fall face forward, and if you were too passive, backward you’d go. I must say that, during this time in American history, with the government shutting down over the Republicans’ hatred of Obamacare and the debt ceiling, all I saw was a giant game of political chicken, with the American people being the ones ending up all wet.

Who can we blame for the loss of government jobs, the shutting down of government programs, the closing of the gates of zoos, and the national food stamp debit card scare?

Some blame House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Some blame the fiscal liberalism of the Democrats. Others blame the president. Which of these is the most to blame? The answer is not as simple as that. In reality, it’s our fault for creating such a hostile government by electing our most mediocre and irresponsible.

As long as the American people continue to vote in terrible, ignorant, reckless people like Boehner; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Rep. Michelle Bachmann; R-Minn., Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Obama, we will continue to have the same messes year after year.

Maybe the most articulate explanation of the current mess came from MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan on a panel discussing our country’s leadership:

“Tens of trillions of dollars are being extracted from the United States of America. Democrats aren’t doing it, Republicans are not doing it. An entire integrated system, financial system, trading system, taxing system that was created by both parties over a period of two decades is at work on our entire country right now,” said Ratigan. “We’re sitting here arguing about whether we should do the $4 trillion plan that kicks the can down the road for the president for 2017, or burn the place to the ground, both of which are reckless, irresponsible and stupid.”

Ratigan is beyond correct. After 20 years of electing tax-and-spend Democrats, war-hawk Republicans and unqualified leaders, the cradle has fallen. The fat lady is singing. And no, Virginia, there is no Santa Clause … anymore.

Our leaders let the banks take over. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought our Congress and the housing crisis was created. The American people voted in Obamacare, and now they can’t log on to sign up. A comedy of errors inspired by greed, corruption, and a social Darwinist worldview accompanied by a European nanny-state model created a lot of takers and fewer creators.

Ratigan’s solution is maybe the best I’ve heard. It’s idealism at its purest, but it would also turn Obama into a Reagan-like president:

“I would like [Obama] to go to the people of the United States of America and say, ‘People of the United States of America, your Congress is bought, your Congress is incapable of making legislation on health care, banking, trade or taxes because if they do it, they will lose their political funding and they won’t do it.’ ”

In this political game of chicken, our leaders must lead without fear of losing lobbyist money or big-business backing. Obama needs to push or the GOP needs to push. This vacuum of taking responsibility has produced the least effective government in American history.

We are laughed at by the Middle East, Europe has been worthless, and China is gearing up to become the world’s newest incarnation of Rome. If we don’t demand better, the rest of the world will catch up.

How do we fix this nightmare? First, take a look in the mirror. Did I elect the wrong people? Am I voting a party line that guarantees the cycle to continue? Do I re-elect people due to party lines?

In the game of political chicken, don’t be the partner chin-deep in the water. Be the one on top. It’s our country, too. Don’t ever forget that.

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