Friday, March 19, 2010

Good Enough for Government Work

When I was little, I think my dad got a kick out of teaching me random, semi-insulting phrases. I knew how to use SNAFU correctly when I was 6 and knew things were not good if he dropped a "FUBAR" into conversation. My mom yelled at me once for telling her we should "make like a hockey player and get the puck out of here." To an 8 year old, that's just a sports joke.

"Good enough for government work" was another phrase in my dad's arsenal, and I understood that it meant "that'll do, i guess." But I didn't truly understand what he was saying until I moved to the DC area, where my local news is everyone else's national news. Being this close to the cogs of the US Government is shockingly depressing sometimes. It's ridiculous the amount of "good enough" that goes through, especially considering most of what happens isn't actually good for anything.

As a progressive, liberal, insert-catchphrase-that-Glen-Beck-has-demonized-here, I am in favor of the Health Care reform. With an expected vote this weekend, there's an electricity in the air for wonks everywhere - but the bill that is being pushed through is so incredibly watered down that it's a mere fragment of the bold changes President Obama had in mind. Watching the Democrats, with their veto-proof majority, bow down to the pressure of the Republican minority for the last year or so has been really disheartening. On some level, I think it would have been disheartening to watch if the parties were switched, too.

I have to attribute this feeling to Stephen Colbert, who was commenting on Rep. Boehner's threat to Democrats thinking of voting in favor of the health care bill. 'We will come after you in the elections this November,' Boehner promised. Um, duh. Duh you will try to unseat the Democrats in the elections this year. That is what you do, whether or not the health care bill goes through, because that is how politics works. So how is that a threat? And why did it work?

This is where my dad's phrase really starts to ring true. Why does one run for office? To affect their community in a positive way (relative to the candidate), I would hope. So how does sitting on your thumbs for your whole term help your constituency? It doesn't. And if you didn't really accomplish any of the goals that you set out for during your term, why would you run again? And why would people vote for you for doing nothing? Is that better than standing up for your beliefs - potentially the beliefs you were elected for in the first place - and losing the election? I, for one, would rather be back in my law firm after 2-6 years of working my tail off for the country I love than sitting in the chamber and wondering what the cafeteria special is that day. But I guess there's no real need to fight the good fight. Just showing up each day must be "good enough for government work."