My wife Ann and I are relatively politically minded, and over the course of the last several months had the opportunity to carefully consider which candidates for office we would support. We had a ton of fun last night watching the polls close across America and listening to the commentators speculate about who would win each state, and thus win the coveted electoral vote (although I must admit that I fell asleep before it was over). In a couple of races I went to bed believing one thing--and then waking up to learn another.
We read, listened, and debated the merits of candidates before making our decisions. We looked forward to Election Day, perhaps the same way that many of you did before heading off to cast your ballot. The responsibility to vote is taken very seriously in our home, and I am sure many of you feel the same way. We are all thankful when it is over, the dust finally settles, and the political advertisements stop. So today as we evaluate the results and see where the balance of power may or may not have shifted, I wonder what has actually changed?
Probably not that much. This is what we have learned. The White House will be controlled by President Obama, a Democrat. The United States House of Representatives will remain controlled by the Republicans, and The United States Senate will remain under the control of the Democrats. A split government, exactly the status quo before the election.
Equally important (and in some instances more so) were local races for state governmental office. Since the Governor was not up for re-election it remains under the control of the Republicans with Governor Branstad. The Iowa House will remain under Republican Control (although the Democrats picked up a few seats), and the Iowa Senate will remain under democrat control. Again, a split government, exactly the status quo before the election.
I consider myself a patriot and will support the elected officials we have in office. Provided of course they assume this duty with a bit of humility and willingness to compromise and collaborate. Provided of course they can think on their own and vote with their own voice--and not that of the party. I also believe in split government, much like we have in Washington and in our own little corner of America--provided of course we can move beyond partisanship. Done correctly, the two party system can prevent bad things from happening. It is sort of like a checks and balances on the system.
But the wheels start to come off when we talk about compromise and collaboration. We have serious problems in our nation and in our state that must be solved. These problems will not be solved without compromise. What will our country do about the Middle East, global warming, the fiscal cliff, a $16 Trillion deficit? What will our state do about education reform, property tax relief, and job creation?
Those are serious issues that must be solved. Chest thumping, character assassination, and bullying will not solve the problems of the day. And that is exactly what we have been treated to--not only this campaign cycle, but for the last two years. Our politicians laud the dangers of piling debt on our kids or leaving [any of] these problems for the next generation to solve. "Think of the Children", what a great campaign slogan that would be! Yet the example that has been set is the only way to get ahead is to cut down people who don't agree with our position and refuse to work together for the common good.
So, here we are trying to teach youngsters not to be bullies, treat everyone with kindness, and not call each other names. We are teaching them to be collaborative workers and critical thinkers. We are teaching them--hopefully be people of integrity, and the value of flexibility. (See Hudson Learner Performance Goals and Keys of Success.)
I am an optimistic person and believe that we are on the brink of seeing great things happen in our nation and in our state. I have faith in the two party system and look forward to the upcoming General Assembly and working with our elected officials on education issues. There is no doubt that our elected officials are optimistic as well, that they have the very best of intentions, and that they want to do an awesome job and solve the problems of the day. So, lets do it together and show our young people that we can collaborate in a spirit of cooperation and good will.
In closing, I would like to congratulate Representative Walt Rogers (R) and Senator Jeff Danielson (D) on your re-election. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work, and I know you both are too!