Published in the the Center City Concerned Citizens Review
By Joseph Batory
It is a legend made famous by a host of Hollywood movies…..the Roman emperor Nero playing the fiddle while the city burned for six days in 64 AD. Nevertheless, that image of Nero with a fiddle lives on today amidst too many misguided and/or hypocritical politicians who inhabit Washington, DC.
While our nation so desperately needs a directed sense of vision and meaningful purpose from its leaders regarding a myriad of pressing issues, our citizenry is beset with far too much political “fiddling” … usually full of ‘sound and fury’ soundbites and often without substance.
The respected journalist Bill Moyers has offered this summary of our nation’s government:
The egalitarian creed of our Declaration of Independence is mocked in all but name…The wealthy governing elites in America today—corporate executives, wealthy contributors, and the elected officials who have been bankrolled into office—possess a degree of power and separation befitting a true ruling class…”
Moyers premise is that that the aristocratic powers that be in Washington more and more are keeping their distance from the realities that are faced each day by people of America.
Here in 2015, our citizenry is beset with a political system that fosters ideological perspectives at the expense of the common good. Compromise has become a dirty word among politicians. As a result governmental gridlock is all too common. At best, the Washington “ruling class” is “clueless.” At worst, they are “self-serving hypocrites.” Whatever the case, for the DC political establishment, the best interests of the American people are nowhere on the Washington radar screen.
Tragically, the “real world” United States is being overwhelmed by a poverty rate second in the world only to Mexico, neglected and underfunded schools, congested highways, crumbling roads and corroded bridges, inadequate emergency systems, library cutbacks, and little emphasis on deficit reduction.
Too many right wing politicians keep pretending that global warming is some sort of fantasy, ignoring the input of hundreds of reputable scientists.
Additionally, our country’s power grid is in urgent need of modernization. Dramatic power failures affecting millions have become the typical illustration of this neglect but these may only be the tip of the iceberg.
One of the best summaries of governmental malaise came from Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) when he announced his retirement from the Senate just a few years ago:
…Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress; too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. In a time of enormous national challenge, the people’s business is just not getting done.
In summary, too many elected officials continue to pursue political priorities and self-serving agendas. Far too many critical issues that affect millions of Americans continue to be ignored amidst the indifference and the ideological gibberish of Washington’s aristocrats.
Joseph Batory is a former superintendent of schools and the author of three books on school leadership as well as numerous published articles on politics and education.