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Leadership shutdown

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Editorial: Oct. 11, 2013

ISSUE: Federal government shuttered
OUR VIEW: Demand leadership and governance

As the government shutdown reaches Day 11 with a federal debt crisis looming next week, many Americans are frustrated, angry and even embarrassed about the impasse.

Here’s another view to consider: We deserve the incompetent government we have.

Americans who don’t know and generally don’t care about issues that affect our nation or its future survival are plentiful. In general, the country elects whomever promises the most and is more successful at destroying the competition with hateful television messages.

Political dominance is more important to politicians than the Constitution, freedom or preserving America. Neither the Republican nor Democratic parties are willing to work together or compromise on any issue if it appears to give the other side a perceived political advantage.  

Today, America has no national leadership. Both chambers of Congress and the White House are guilty in that respect. Be it President Barack Obama, the Senate or the House, all equally are responsible. Take your pick. Blame, retribution, dishonest statements and half-truths seem to be the virtues of modern American leadership.

There are plenty of people willing to stand upon a particular idealogical point of view. But who truly leads? Results should matter more than rhetoric.

Yet some politically active among us have celebrated the shutdown. They see it as a showdown for values. Their credo: “We sent our representatives to Washington to take a stand.”

Pardon us for disagreeing. We sent our representatives to Washington to govern. That requires a significant supply of sincerity combined with a large measure of wisdom and a degree of compromise.

It appears all sides see the shutdown as an opportunity for future elections — not a national crisis that can hurt average Americans and damage our economy, national security or world standing for years to come. In fact, it appears those issues are all secondary to gaining or maintaining control.  

Around the globe and across the centuries, too many governments have operated that way. None were good and most have crumbled.

The sense of outrage reached new heights after several U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq this week, including a soldier deployed from Fort Knox with the 201st Brigade Support Battalion.

Because of this petty squabble, elected leaders are willing to deny basic burial and care for their families, all in an attempt to convince Americans the other side is to blame and does not care about people. It’s an outrage designed solely as an attempt to gain votes in the next election.

The government, it seems, is making every effort to make the shutdown as painful as possible for prespective voters, with the same intent and for the same reasons.

If this oneupmanship attitude remains in Washington, the government’s effectiveness will continue to decline for the next several years until the American virtues found in history books will be unrecognizable to society at large.

Americans are proud of our 200-plus years of democracy and assume it will remain so. Those bragging rights should be spoken now with grave concern and as a warning that our future as a republic — perhaps even as a nation — is in peril.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.