For the most part, we all want the same things in life. We want freedom and independence. We want respect. We want the chance to prosper and improve our “lot in life”. We want as few people suffering as possible. We want healthy and educated children. We want to feel safe and enjoy crime-free streets among other lofty ideals. With so much work to be done, one might think that there would be a very motivated consensus on a plan of action to get us there. Of course, that could not be further from the truth. After the initial agreement on our nation’s social justice goals, there is a virtual civil war going on between the two dominant ideologies on how to best achieve the identified objectives.
And, much like the 1969 song of the same title, War, the needlessly contentious and prolonged heated political debates are “good for nothing”. As Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote more than half a century ago, “war” means ‘destruction of innocent lives” and “tears to thousands of mothers eyes.” While our elected officials are throwing barbs as duck-and-weave style media bytes fly, our most vulnerable citizens are dying. But much like the media coverage of the Vietnam War, the misery of innocent bystanders is rarely a glossy feature for public viewing.
Granted, the images would be graphic in nature. But for many elected officials, those images would also likely be the closest experience many have to a “day in the life” view of the impact their decisions have in our local communities. The “war of words”, partisanship and hostility is killing this country regardless of whether one is a conservative or a liberal.
While debate is good and a balance of power is absolutely necessary, the inability to compromise has left us with a broken and dysfunctional branch of government. When opposing parties work in completely separate orbits and rarely interact on a bipartisan basis, Americans are left without effective solutions.
For years, disability advocates have promoted and rallied around the “No Labels” slogan. Well, now is the time that disability advocates and neuro-typical leaders need to hold all elected officials to the same standard. Again, “Labels are for jars not people.” We are not looking for a conservative plan, nor are we seeking a liberal proposal. Together, we must all demand an INCLUSIVE SOLUTION. One that provides tangible and pragmatic results for all citizens.
That did not happen this legislative session. Florida’s Legislature mandated $124 million dollars in the tax breaks to large prosperous corporations during a regular session with a $2.1 billion shortfall. Where is the benefit to all of Florida’s citizens, both Republicans and Democrats? Clearly, there is much work to be done. Because in the words of singer Edwin Starr, “Lord knows there’s got to be a better way.”