Temporary Relief from

Has it occurred to others that lately we’ve slept better, eaten better, exercised more, looked forward to movies and the World Series?

That the sky is bluer, our spirits higher, our anger diminished?

That in fact hope is beginning to sprout above a winter’s crust?


Congress has been on vacation.

Of course, Republicans have been on vacation for the past two years and threaten to continue to ignore their duties for the coming two years should they take over the marbled halls on the hill in early November.

So, what else have we missed? We haven’t missed Louis Gohmert and Ted Cruz. We haven’t missed pasty old Mitch McConnell’s arrogance. We haven’t missed Fox News interviewing every off-the-wall would-be politico with a conspiracy theory. We haven’t missed Ed Schultz reporting live from Wisconsin. Or Rick Perry not running for President.

Congress has been on vacation.

Ordinarily this may not be a cause for rejoicing. But for this group obstructionism became the watchword of the day, and our own watchwords, as the public, can hardly be repeated out loud.

Well, folks, our holiday is about over. The clouds are descending again on the horizon, winter winds beginning to swirl angrily, and the idea that the very same people who drove us to distraction before stand very good chance of being returned once more to posture, pose, pontificate and solve nary a national problem is terrifying.

We’re faced with unpalatable choices.

We can vote for the half dozen men and women who still believe that they can make a healthy difference to the nation’s economy, the nation’s reputation, the nation’s image. These rare beings manage, somehow, to still believe in working for their constituants, in attending to the real problems the country has: the economy, the wars abroad, Veterans’ affairs, infrastructure, education.

The remainder of Congress – our other choice – is comprised of hungry, greedy, ambitious men and women who can afford to (a) either fund their own campaigns or (2) have benefitted to such an extent from gerrymandering since the 2010 census that they simply cannot lose.

The rest of the slates around the country are comprised of people without talent but nerve. Is announcing that you’re a “businessman” sufficient to overcome an Iraq war veteran, a renowned teacher, a civil servant with real experience in the field? “Businessmen” too often have resumes that are as empty of public generosity and involvement as a ten year old’s.

Congress has been on vacation. Were it not for our revered Constitution, isn’t there a chance that two branches of government alone could reach sensible compromises and agree on forward-looking policies and decisions?

We haven’t missed Congress. Life became almost normal. What can we do to make this happy state of affairs continue?
First of all, unless we have very very good reason, do not pull the same old lever or write in the same old name. Even though the new candidates may not be entirely deserving of our trust and confidence, not to mention being perhaps totally unqualified, they are not their father’s candidates. That’s a start.

Secondly, prepare to either roll over for another two year stretch of stupidity and inaction, OR start finding ways to unite with other dissatisfied citizens to make a change in the directions these people seemed destined to want to take the country. Which is to say, do not take a nap, but increase your lungpower.

Thirdly, hold the newcomers – if such there are – to their campaign promises, as well as to the ideals on which this country is founded. Be unafraid of recall elections, or impeachments, or investigations of ethical issues that really matter.
In other words, it’s time for all of us to come back from vacation. Some of us will have changed, some won’t.

But if we change, Congress eventually (within two years at least) will have to.

Congress will continue to take holidays and raise its own pay. Members will continue to hog the television cameras at hearings and investigations into matters that are so unimportant no harm can actually come from them. Boredom, absolutely, but actual harm, not much.

Most importantly of all, just remember how placid and serene, how normal the world has seemed since mid-August and struggle with every fiber of our being to return to that short yesterday when citizens and newspapers dominated back-fence conversations in our neighborhoods and rabble-rousers and fear mongers didn’t.

If we can get a man to the moon, we should certainly be able to find talented, thoughtful, well-meaning men and women for whom service to their country means more than tax breaks and back room deals and salting away our money for their retirements.


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