state of the government ’18

For the last several years, the Intramuralist has published our annual “State of the Government” analysis in conjunction with the President’s annual State of the Union Address. While the themes remain the same, this is a tougher blog to write this year, aware of the seemingly increasing challenge to specifically discuss the government’s role respectfully.

It’s been a tough year.  It’s been a tough several years. Some believe respect is no longer necessary. Sometimes that even, unfortunately, includes the current president. We then each take turns being disrespectful in response.

And so with my heartfelt desire is to communicate respectfully, regardless of topic, I acknowledge that I can’t control anyone’s Twitter feed. I can’t stop the flurry of social media memes that mock another whole party or people group. I can only encourage each of us individually to be aware of how we contribute to the division. This is about no one else, friends. This is us.

In recent years, we’ve opined here that the state of our government is “too partisan, too influenced by money, too big, too financially imbalanced, and too far removed from the Constitution.” My limited perspective also senses that the respect level has deteriorated so far — fueled by partisans on both sides of the equation — that we can no longer see the actual state of our government.

Partisans on both sides consistently blame someone else. We then blame someone else… if only they would _______.. The focus is typically on “they.”

I get it. It’s easier. We are far more comfortable pointing the finger elsewhere and demanding someone else change their thinking or behavior than examining our own negative contribution. We are far more willing to point the finger at someone else’s errors in thinking than to examine what aspects we are currently unable to see due to our bents, bias, emotion, and experience. We are far more wanting to point the finger at someone else’s…

Blindspots. Unwillingness to listen.
And their lack of loving all people well.

We fail to look at our own…

Unwillingness to listen.
And our lack of loving all people well.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… if we’re only loving and respecting the person who thinks like we do, then we are only loving and respecting some people well.

When we fail to love and respect all people — regardless of whether we are a public citizen or elected official — we are fueling the division.

I once shared my earnest, impractical desire to wave some sort of unifying magic wand that could somehow end this growing, disturbing digression; that would no doubt be easiest. But perhaps the best place to start is not with any magic nor fictional tool that relies on something other than me.

The best place to start is with self — putting away our pointing fingers and looking instead internally…

How have I fueled the division?

Tough question. Tougher answer… albeit necessary.


sotu 2015

FullSizeRenderWhile it’s true that the Food Network’s “Chopped” and “Friends” reruns vied for my attention Tuesday night, once again I watched the State of the Union address. With all due respect, allow me to share my initial emotion regardless of who is speaking for this long, with this lengthy of a list, with this much use of the pronoun “I” after a full day: yawn.

I mean no disrespect. I’m interested in what our leaders have to say; I just don’t always find partisan initiatives combined with political theater particularly interesting. Hence, I decided to share a few other thoughts… some mine… some yours…. each who felt called to share their creative, editorial insights…

  • Nice ties, Joe & John.  Well-coordinated, I might add.
  • Lookin’ good, Michelle.  Michelle Obama always looks good — especially when she’s smiling.
  • The first SOTU by George Washington only lasted 5-7 minutes.  I’m thinking contemporary leaders could learn a thing or two.
  • The question here is relevance. How can this President remain relevant his last 2 years in office? 
  • “Aisle hogs”… you know who they are… always have to be right on the row’s edge. See Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
  •  Any tickets for this up on Stubhub?
  • Will James Taylor be singing?
  • Obama looks grayer to me. Life must be a little stressful.
  • Saluting the troops is right on. 
  • Does the Supreme Court know how to clap?
  • I think every President accepts too much credit and too little blame.
  • “Middle class economics”?  Who came up with that term? 
  • Not being able to pay for college is not a new circumstance.
  • What’s the message here to Hillary?
  • I’m realizing even the intelligent blur the line between “wants” & “needs.”
  • Seems like he’s trying to tug on my heartstrings.
  • Did he just say “sl_ts” instead of “slots”?
  • How’s he going to pay for all this?
  • Tax wealth — not income.  Otherwise we’re talking socialism.
  • Reducing the deficit is great, but don’t ignore the increasing debt.
  • John Boehner, blowing your nose while the President’s talking isn’t all that attractive.
  • Remember that “free” doesn’t mean free; it means using our tax dollars to pay for it.
  • Love it when they ALL stand! Then it feels a less like a Patriots’ game.
  • [via Chris Rock] “With obesity at record levels, Republicans should set a good example and stand up once in a while.”
  • So if I get free internet, will my taxes go up or stay the same?
  • If you like Obama and like a lot of free stuff, you’ll like this speech. 
  • Instead of taxing the richest 1% more, could we eliminate their Social Security checks?
  • No use of the word “Islamic.” No use of Al Qaeda either.
  • I have great fear about where we are heading.
  • Not sure if the laughter/sarcasm here is appropriate. Snarkiness never goes over well.
  • Sen. Diane Feinstein, interesting pink and purple combo.
  • Not sure climate change is our biggest challenge and not comfortable as the Intramuralist says about omitting God from the conversation.
  • We can speak to issues that still need improvement and we could point out that Obama may not have played a significant role in any of these improvements. But can’t we at least pause for a moment to acknowledge the positive?
  • With all the veto threats, you have to wonder if persons will perceive you as someone who can be worked with.
  • Strong on domestic policy. Weak on foreign policy.
  • Under Obama’s leadership, he mentions how some say we’re more divided than ever. I wish that wasn’t true. Each of us needs to look at how we play a role in that. That includes Obama. That includes the media. That includes me.
  • I hear a conciliatory tone as the President closes. Maybe that would have been wise to use the whole time.
  • Bill Clinton’s SOTU’s sounded very Republican; George Bush’s sounded very Democratic; both seemed to be reaching out to the other side, where Obama doesn’t seem to make any attempt to reach out and gives a very partisan/Democratic speech.
  • An appropriate Republican response?  Balance the budget. Period.
  • The Republican response comes next — this year via Sen. Joni Ernst. No disrespect, Senator, but haven’t we listened long enough?
  • Sen. Ernst, the first female, combat veteran elected to the Senate… impressive. She’s even wearing camouflage heels.
  • I like the fact that Ernst worked the farm and the Hardee’s biscuit line; now that’s hard work.
  • Keystone pipeline/jobs bill. Republicans and Democrats support it. The State Dept. supported it. But administration says they can’t sign it yet. Not sure what the truth is there.
  • Simplify the tax code — please!
  • Too much dysfunction in Washington. Yep.
  • 4 times as many people will be watching the Super Bowl next week than the number who watched this tonight. Shocking.

And then on Tuesday, this semi-humble observer turned on “Chopped.”  Did I mention my yawn?