Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

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Getting the job done

Q: Can people who disagree with each other -- who pale at even compromising with each other -- come up with and execute a successful game plan? (Any resemblance to the new Congress is strictly uncoincidental ...) If you've ever worked in such a heated atmosphere, what was the outcome? Is this a recipe for a lose-lose scenario, or might a surprise be in the offing?


America has a lengthy history of having a constantly swinging political pendulum, giving one party or the other a temporary lease on determining the nation's destiny. A Republican House with a Democratic Senate is a classic "split decision," echoing the polarized nation that is America today.

Our nation is polarized on many issues, but there is also an overarching perception difference in how government should govern. Conservatives say they do not want a bigger and more powerful federal government in Washington running their lives, which, they claim, is putting the nation and our grandchildren in financial jeopardy.

On the other side, some agree with the philosophy is that a bigger federal government is a better federal government. Most people of the United States are not in sync with this philosophy -- as was proved on election night and noted in the Post's editorial page by the words "They are fed up with Washington business as usual."

The new political split in Congress will assure some gridlock and very combative politics over several issues, including the recently passed health-care reform, also known as "Obamacare."

Health-care reform was passed through a major expenditure of political capital by the president and the leadership of the Democratic Party. The end result was a dizzying piece of well-intended legislation that spawned an unexpected outcome -- a political movement that helped bring about "change" in this election -- the Tea Party.

President Obama needs a serious inventory of his goals and leadership. He needs to govern to the center, which is where most people are politically.

The question is whether Congress can execute a successful game plan with this political split. Of course it can. Congress has been in this business for more than 200 years.

America is not a nation of robots who all have the same political viewpoints on issues of the day. We are not just "red state" or "blue state." There are other factors that define us, such as urban and rural divides. Ask a group of people from Wyoming and from Brooklyn how they feel about gun control, for example. I am sure you get the point.

Congress finds a way to get the nation's business done while slowly and painfully compromising in the legislative process. Political posturing is, of course, part of the enterprise, and now we have news shows, blogs and Internet sites that are ideologically driven, for those who do not desire to hear opposing viewpoints.

Personally, I love politics. Watching the periodic maneuvering as the two parties see their fortunes change is both entertaining and inspiring. I love living in a democracy. Can you imagine living in Iran or Cuba where zealots or a dictator are in charge? It is wonderful to live in a nation with such resilience and such an amazing ability to argue and peacefully change the political leadership as the majority desires.

By Jan Scruggs  |  November 8, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Success and adversity Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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If my money and my rights were not all tied into what our government does, then I could laugh and watch them play silly ego games without alarm. but sine that is not the case, I am very concerned that the different parties and the different houses spend more time and resources fighting each other instead of fighting for the citizenry!

Posted by: nsomeka45 | November 8, 2010 10:06 PM
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Our Government has been wrecked by career politicians who have no idea how to act in a responsible fashion. They have spent us into an unbelievable debt load. All the foolishness now must come to an end. Our Government needs to be reduced in size and given only responsibilities enumerated in the Constitution and the budgest must be balanced and the debt payed down. NOW.

Posted by: bobbo2 | November 8, 2010 11:39 AM
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Start a public playground movement. Job fun.

Posted by: jobandon | November 8, 2010 10:30 AM
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You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://bit.ly/bandYw .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!


Posted by: dwighthoe08 | November 8, 2010 3:01 AM
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