EDITOR’S NOTE: The following email exchange took place recently between childhood friends Denny Freidenrich and Dick Crittenden. Sixty-something fathers, Crittenden is retired and lives in East Lansing; Freidenrich writes from Laguna Beach.
DF: Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to reflect on the harrowing debt-ceiling debate. As far as political battles go, this was a doozy. The American people got to see just how Washington makes sausages (i.e., laws), and I don’t think many like how they look, taste or smell. Today, more than 80% of voters have a negative impression of Congress.
DC: So, 80% of the American public has a negative view of Congress. What does that really mean? What do we know about the political leanings of the survey participants? If you ask a Tea Party member and a left-leaning Democrat are you satisfied with the results from last month’s congressional machinations, the answer would be the same. A resounding NOT SATISFIED!
DF: Democracy is not for the faint of heart. The old guard Capitol Hill chefs, who were busy mixing up the debt-limit stew, understand this. They know democracy takes patience. They know how much work it really takes. It’s not often the public gets to sit in the kitchen and watch political pie being made. That is exactly what happened last week.
DC: Each side will use that 80% number for its own purposes. The really important questions rarely are asked by pollsters.
DF: If location, location, location is the key to a restaurant’s success, then compromise, compromise, compromise is the key to democracy’s success.
DC: Compromise is a dirty word now. In politics, and so much else in American life, it’s win, win, win at all costs. Take no prisoners. This is what worries me the most. We are a polarized nation and that polarization is increasing at a rapid pace. Nothing good will come from this.
DF: Even though I disagree with the Tea Party, I have to admit they elevated the all-too familiar conversation about raising the debt-ceiling, now 75 times in the last half century, to a new art form. Give them an “A” for principle, but an “F” for governing.
DC: I am becoming more and more disheartened by the political, and social and religious, animus. I see no solution or end to it. We used to be a civilized democracy. We are rapidly losing that distinction. I wish I knew the answer or solution. What should I tell my boys? I have no clue.
DF: Not sure what you tell your boys. To the Tea Party-backed members in Congress I say this: Next time you are making sausage, remember (a) the recipe calls for more than just beef or pork and (b) don’t burn down the kitchen in the process.
DC: The fact is, as a society we have become disrespectful and intolerant, regardless of out political or religious beliefs. Sorry about the pessimistic tone of my reply, but it is how I feel. I wish I felt more positive about our future.
DF: You will. Give it time. Want some mustard on your sausage?
DENNY FREIDENRICH is a Laguna Beach resident.