Are we addicted to crisis?: Brad Hirschfield's ethical take on the news (Video)

Aug 02, 2011

With Brad Hirschfield

I think that we actually might be, and I am concerned that we're approaching the "boy who cried wolf" syndrome. The pattern has been for the far right and the far left to tussle and buck the President, and at the last moment swoop in and "save the day." Why don't Americans understand that this is simply crisis management, and that it does nothing for us long term?

2011 is the year demographers have been dreading since 1946. Isn't what we're witnessing THE fatal problem with democracy (a thought process that goes no further than an election cycle)? The final compromise was not much but an agreement to procrastinate.

How could anyone - even smarmy politicians - believe that default wasn't a big deal? What has changed over time, even in the last year, that has made people think this way?

The fact that both the far left and the Tea Party right agreed that the default was no big deal is rather frightening. Common sense says that a default would not really change the economic status quo, as raising the debt ceiling will not either, unless other steps to mitigate the causes of the economic woes are taken. How do we get our politicians to understand that the world will not investigate the particular details as to how a default was achieved, and that the world's view of us would clearly be negatively impacted by a default? Are they so ego/ethno-centric that they believe that world cares about our inner wrangling?

If Democrats and Republicans took a step back and looked at the issues with a modicum of humility, it might be possible for them to get a glimpse of one another's side, empathize, and consider a compromise position. But this runs counter to the egotistical modus operandi of politicians, who latch on to key and usually extreme positions to both differentiate themselves and to score with constituencies which seem more and more divided and distanced from the center. Also, since election cycles are short term, benefits of long term plans are rarely considered. How do we make it clear that there is another way to interact/negotiate/deal with one another, and that it's time for a change?

Both parties have become so entrenched and dogmatic that to compromise results in apostatizing oneself to your political philosophy. Republicans can NOT vote for taxes now in the same way that Catholics can NOT deny the divinty of Christ. Thus, when there is an impasse where is the middle ground to negotiate a settlement? There isn't any and thus politics have become a zero sum game with a clear winner and a clear loser everytime. Both side are trying to sell the debt bill as a compromise but it isn't. . .the GOP/Tea Party won. Yes?

Every member of Congress and the Senate should be handed a copy of Arlen Specter's farewell speech. It was indeed prophetic. As far as being "addicted to crisis" goes - It only seems that way while this current batch of Republican extremists are empowered to prolong the agony and frustration we felt in 2008. They are such obstructionists - intent on not only destroying this President but recovery efforts - that they are even willing eat their own, as was evidenced - blatantly - when Senator Lugar objected to Ryan's budget proposal (because it would lose us over 700,000 jobs and was unsustainable) by threatening to run someone against him when he comes up for re-election. They are antithetical not only to government but to governance and hence our country's founding principles.

LAST QUESTION: How do you think this will effect Barack Obama's bid for re-election?

In This Chat
Brad Hirschfield
Brad Hirschfield is the president of Clal - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He writes the For God's Sake blog for The Washington Post. A regular on Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox Business Network. he appears frequently on NPR, PBS, and CNN, and is routinely listed as one of America?s "most influential rabbis." His most recent book is You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism.
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