The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 30, 2013

George Hancock | Establish a platform of compromise, sharing


JOHNSTOWN — Robert L. Fulghum wrote an intriguing book in 1986. The book’s title was “All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten.” Fulghum stated, “All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.”

Fulghum learned valuable life lessons in kindergarten. These lessons included “share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.”

The last line in Fulghum’s first chapter aptly describes the book’s central theme. Fulghum stated, “And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

This is a valuable point in today’s high-tech, impersonal world. A point embraced by the road-running crowd. Runners freely offer advice and expertise to their brethren. Runners have adopted the credo of the U.S. military – runners leave no one behind.

Runners are known to stay with a fallen comrade. Runners make sure everyone is moving in the correct direction, even if that action results in another competitor winning the race. It is the right thing to do. Runners share the glory.

Cautiously we trot down the Washington, D.C., beltway to the land of polarized politics. Capitol Hill was paralyzed by our partisan parasites. The American populace was held hostage for 16 days by the dysfunctional dandies. The question is, why?

Upon examining the situation, troubling points emerge. A piece of legislation enacted into law has irked some political factions. This legislation is derisively referred to as Obamacare. Yet the Affordable Care Act was passed by a majority of both houses and signed into law by the president. This legislation has also successfully passed through the court system. Even the nation’s highest court has ruled in favor of this law. This law even survived numerous attempts to defund the legislation.

It now appears a minority of our Washington politicians decided to disregard that classic kindergarten rule dealing with sharing. These politicians had no desire to share anything. They were rankled. They were upset. These politicians decided to pick up their toys before the game ended and go home.

This action resulted in the partial shutdown of our government. Our nation barely escaped economic calamity. Our government during this crisis perilously swayed back and forth between compromise and dangerous default. Compromise and sharing were not options to this well-financed vocal minority.

A compromise was reached mere hours before the default deadline. Congress now has roughly 113 days to clean up its mess before we experience déjà vu.  But, the situation grows worse.

Twenty-seven GOP senators and 87 GOP House members supported this continuing resolution. These congressional members are now facing insults, threats and potential sanctions from that mean-spirited group controlling the Republican Party.

Many are not optimistic about a solution. One commentator examined the congressional calendar. Can Congress discuss and reach a solution in 113 days? Well, yes. Any caring individual could create a solid plan in this time frame.

However, the House and Senate have few joint sessions in the next 113 days. The legislative branch will stumble again in 2014. Words will spew from both chambers. The executive branch will spin its arguments. The American populace will lose again.

How can we correct this distressing situation? Tribune-Democrat Publisher Robin L. Quillon offered his thoughts in a recent Sunday commentary. Qullion wrote, “Folks, remember, your vote has the power to do something about these dysfunctional clowns. I for one will not vote to re-elect a single one of those who currently represent us.”

We need to share. We need to work together. Send these mean-spirited politicians to time-out.

George A. Hancock of Scalp Level Borough is an occasional contributor to the editorial page.