Just about everyone in the United States agrees that there is a problem in Washington, D. C. Some blame the Democrats, some the Republicans. Some blame liberals, some conservatives. Anyone placing this sort of blame is a part of the problem. What the partisans fail to realize is that we are all on the same team. We the people deserve a better government. This does not mean any change to the Constitution of the United States – rather it means a change in the by-laws of the Congress.
Years ago I participated in a Project Management class by IBM. I think it was 1985. We met in New Orleans for a week. I remember an exercise where the class was divided into three groups – all working for Company ABC. Each group was given an assignment, points could be earned. Everyone likes to earn points. Some points would be earned for The Team and some would be earned for Company ABC – and sometimes strategies would result in either more points for The Team or for The Company.
Each team was sent to different rooms to form strategies. Points for different strategies were easy to document. Invariably – the teams chose the strategies that earned the most points for the team, regardless of the points earned for Company ABC. We all grew up in America – where winning is the paramount value.
At the end of the exercise the entire class was dressed down by the instructors. Each team had acted selfishly. The Company did not earn the most points possible because individual teams within the company were too desperate to be the best – to earn the most points. The IBM instruction was hard-nosed about this particular feature of human weakness. Our desire to stand out as champions cost the company a lot of money. Each of us came away with a sense of shame for choosing Team over Company.
And so it goes in Washington. Many of us make jokes about ‘week long retreats in the Bahamas’ for government or corporate leaders. It seems to me that a ‘week long retreat in an IBM Management Seminar” about teamwork might be useful for both the Democrats and Republicans.
It seems so cliche to say that the politicians should act on behalf of the America people. And they, the politicians, claim that they are servants of ‘all’ of the people. But the evidence is clear – most of the politicians in Washington seek points for their team, in spite of any gain or loss to the country as a whole.
There are fundamental structural problems in the Congress. By-laws written to reward the Party in power have focused the attention of Team Members on the success of the team rather than the success of the Company. By-laws written to grant some discretionary power to the minority Party are being used to block any effort of the majority. These by-laws developed over many generations of legislators. Many of the by-laws were well intentioned – we presume.
We see gridlock nearly everyday in the Congress. We, as individual voters, stand up for our party . Sometimes we are too embarrassed to claim a party so we say we are independent – that we vote for the ‘person.’ That sounds noble but in the end our vote is interpreted as supporting a particular party.
The people are angry. Many are taking to the street in protest. Malcolm X spoke with authority when he said, “…anger can blind human vision.” Blinded by anger people charge the bull, waving their red flag of protest. But the bull is not the problem. The problem is the idea of fighting the bull in the first place. The problem is the arena itself. An arena designed to entertain and reward the gladiators (the politicians) but no real enemy is slain. At the end of the show, at the end of the day, the people return to their dismal lives, hoping tomorrow their gladiator will win one for the team. In the mean time the people are gored.
The gladiators count the gate receipts and take a vacation in the Bahamas.
We find ourselves arguing constitutional perspective – free speech carries responsibility, the right to bear arms carries responsibility, the right to an attorney carries responsibility, the right to privacy carries responsibility – but these are not the real problems. These become distractions from the real problem.
The real problem in America today is the misunderstanding of Team by the politicians who live long lives in the United States Congress. These politicians appeal to our sense of competition. They intentionally divide the country into opposing teams. They intentionally keep the voters distracted so they can continue their game.
Our ‘free press’ falls in line. The media, whether FOX News, or CNN, or MSNBC, or CBS, NBC, or ABC – all play the game by talking about the bull fight – no one is looking at the arena managers where the rules of the game are played. These rules are buried in the by-laws of legislative process in both the Senate and the House.
There should be no reward for being an obstructionist. There should be no reward for party bullying. There should be no reward for earmarks that are charged to our credit card. There should be no reward for catering to Wall Street. There should be no reward for protecting the Insurance Companies.
There are such devices as Congressional Commissions and Presidential Commissions. They are formed when devastating circumstances hammer our country. Commissions were established to study the assassination of JFK, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, 911, Katrina, and now the BP Gulf Oil Disaster.
The acts of Congress in the past forty years are hammering our country. Thefiresidepost.com is calling on congress to establish a special commission to study the methods and process of Congress. Recommendations should be made in full view of the free press. Let the debate begin anew – our Congress is dysfunctional because of the eroding power of hot air over time. A renewal in a time of a more educated and informed public would serve all.