Friday November 9, 2012

Mike Bethel

Well, the elections are finally over, and my candidate for president did not win. So be it.

President Obama will get a second term, and we can only hope that he can bring the country together by moving closer to the center, and moving the Congress to the center as well.

All of the important issues that face our country must be addressed in a bipartisan manner, or we all lose. The House is still clearly in Republican hands; the Democrats control the Senate, and nothing is going to get done unless both chambers can find common agreement. In order to do that, they need to forget the fantasy wishes of the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street group.

The issues that need to be confronted first are our growing debt, employment, fuel prices, and our health care costs. Congress can do something about each of those, but only if each party forgets its political ego and reaches across the aisle.

All of these men and women have children and grandchildren. Don’t they want to have our country be great again, for the sake of the next generation? They best stop concentrating on the moment, and take the long view about solving our problems.

No one can tell me that we the people cannot fix our country and bring greatness back to America. But you have to have team players in Washington, D.C., to accomplish that.

No matter who the president is, the House and the Senate have to work with him to solve the problems we face as a nation, or we will face another, perhaps worse recession, and more years of confusion and malarkey.

Now, I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard before, but these issues need to be addressed, and if we don’t confront them, how can this country regain its strength and integrity?

I think this election proves that the extreme political views have lost. The election teaches us the wisdom of moderation, that in order to move forward we need to work together. Every American wants and needs the same basic things in order to survive. Most politicians seem to have forgotten this. Instead, we watch as parties fight over nuance and unnecessary distractions, rather than confronting our most pressing needs.

Families need livable wages, affordable food and heat and gas for our vehicles. But a man and a woman, who work to raise a family, with two incomes, still find at the end of the month that they cannot pay their bills, and this robs us of the chance to satisfy our dreams as a nation and as a people.

My concern isn’t so much who is sitting in the White House. The point is that the American people across the country voted in the same old people who have got us into this mess. They only seem to think about themselves, not the average American.

A congressman or senator who has been in office 20 to 40 years has more than likely lost all contact with the real America. Although we complain about them, we still re-elect them. Why is this?

The problem is money. Candidates attract money, and fill their coffers with contributions from special interest groups. We need to work harder to rein in the alarming role of big money in elections, not only by super PACs but by candidates themselves.

Let’s face it: Campaign finance reform has failed. We need something else to detoxify elections. Maybe it’s time to talk about term limits again.

Maybe what really needs to happen is a transformation of the nature of the lawmaker. I was under the impression that these officials work for us. Let’s demand that they do the job they were hired to do.

Mike Bethel lives in Bennington.