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Viewpoint

Finding my voter angst: A run against Washington

I suppose this is as good a time as any to rant about what’s going on – or not going on — in our nation’s capital. I admit I don’t know exactly what it means to shut down a government but when I hear of anything shutting down, it sounds like bad news to me.

No matter what the outcome, we are seeing a government that is pathetically dysfunctional. They can’t get off the dime. They are stuck in idle and they can’t seem to remember how to shift gears. As much as our founding fathers wouldn’t want to hear me say this, I wonder whether a broken two-party system can ever be healed. I only know that right now it’s like watching a Republican and a Democrat on a bicycle built for two, but one is pedaling forward and the other backward.

Hopefully, when most candidates enter the race for office they have good intentions and sound ideals, but something seems to happen to them once they get to Washington. When they are campaigning down at the diner — all smiles and hearty handshakes — they seem like a nice lot. You come away saying to yourself, now these people are going to be able to make things happen in Congress! Perhaps they thought so, too, but something seems to transform them somewhere between their home state and D.C.

Before you know it, many of them are sounding like all the others. When referring to members of the opposite party they start using those hackneyed terms like “My good friend across the aisle.” Really? If these folks are friends they have an odd way of showing it.

Sure, as members of Congress they are prey for the news-hungry media and constantly hunted down by lobbyists, but that all goes with the job. A job, by the way, they asked for and got.

The issue bringing them to this latest level of frenzy is the new health-care initiative — the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. On some of the exchanges seen on television between our senators and representatives they look like 4-year-olds on a playground fighting over who gets to go down the slide first. But this isn’t child’s play — too many sick and uninsured people are falling through the cracks while current health care costs soar each year. You’ve seen your own medical bills, so you have your own horror stories to tell and so do I.

By the way, all the commotion over how Congress is acting isn’t happening just in Washington. It’s a touchy subject that’s doing a job with some interpersonal relationships out here in voter land too. Usually when one of my friends who happens to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum and I discuss a touchy subject we work our way through it. I’m not sure we can last through this current one however. I’m beginning to notice that whenever the word “Washington” arises, my heart rate revs up and the veins in my friend’s neck starts to bulge and throb.

My mother used to say that talk is cheap, and she was probably right. It’s easy for me to sit here and spout off about the job our Congress folk are doing or not doing. Who knows what I would do if I were in their place — except maybe get to enjoy one of the best health plans on Earth, go on a few lengthy vacations, and enjoy a bit of name recognition.

By the time you read this there will almost certainly be new details coming out about the shutdown. I almost don’t want to know.

Joann Snow Duncanson, a former Peterborough resident now living in Greenland, is the author of “Who Gets the Yellow Bananas?,” co-author of “Breakfast in the Bathtub” and author of her latest book, “Eight Crayons - Poems and Stories by an Almost Sane Woman.” Reach her at www.jsnowduncanson. com or email ourbooks@ worldpath.net.

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