A Note To Congress on the Looming Government Shutdown

Dear Congress,

I write this note with all due respect. Here are some observations by a relatively optimistic guy from whom you have  sucked away the belief that Congress as an institution has the ability to do anything except pose for cameras and point fingers.

1. My son’s t-ball team, a diverse group of three, four and five-year olds seems to me to act with better reason, maturity, compassion, and good-nature than what I observe coming out of Congress. Except when they are on the ball field throwing dirt at each other. Then it is hard to tell the difference between them and you.

2. When I read the news these days, I am reminded with increasing frequency, of those pissing matches that used to take place in high school on the quad or over by the flagpole. Yeah, we get that you are are big and powerful (and probably a little insecure). We get that you have “integrity” and you dig in. I just wish you had little less big and powerful and little more intelligence. I refer you, again, to the kids in my son’s t-ball team, who come across substantially brighter than Congress.

3. I think we paid something like $30,000 in federal taxes last year and I don’t see it doing much good in Congress. If you were my employees, behaving as your are behaving, I’d fire you without a second thought, and without regard for political affiliation. If only there was some mechanism whereby I could do this… hey, wait a minute, there is! Mid-terms!

4. Even if by some miracle, you manage to avoid a government shutdown, don’t think for a second that you will come across looking like heroes that saved the day. You don’t get to call yourself a hero when you averted a problem that you caused in the first place.

5. I know I’ve said this before, but grow a backbone! I haven’t seen such cowardly behavior since, well, possibly ever. Your behavior disrespects the courage of our founders (think of Ben Franklin’s quip about hanging together and hanging apart) to say nothing of the men and women putting their lives on the line every day so that you guys can bicker like spoiled children. These men and women are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. You don’t even seem willing to sacrifice a single corporate donation for the greater good.

6. In other words, stop worrying about the next election and worry about getting real work done. “But,” I hear you say, “I can’t govern if I am not in office.” And my response to that is: Well, someone else can, and probably do a better job, since the slightest effort will earn something more than the failing grade that you are getting today.

7. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the situation. Perhaps I don’t have the full picture. If so it is because you manage to muddy the picture so that our view of the political process is seen through stained glass.  I’d ask you to clarify things for me, but as far as I am concerned, it is too late for that. Regardless of the reality, perception is everything and my perception of Congress at the moment is that of two groups of cowardly bullies seeing who can come across as the least cowardly bunch while still remaining in office. But I could be wrong.

8. There probably are good intentioned people among you. But they are completely washed out by the rest of you. I feel for them, but then I remind myself that you all chose this path and ultimately, we all chose you. I guess the joke is on us, right?

9. There really is something to that old quip, “If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of ‘progress’?”

10. Finally, when my kids misbehave, they get a timeout to think about their behavior and what they might have done differently. I’m hoping that the voters, at least, have the courage that you lack, and come the next election, they give you all a timeout–a time out of office where you can think about your behavior and what you might have done differently.

I make this observations because I still care, because change is needed, and because my perception is that members of Congress are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.

Respectfully yours,

Jamie Todd Rubin

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.