The presidential election this year and the debates on health care, taxes and spending that are taking place within families, businesses and communities are being confronted by the realities of our democratic system created in our U.S. Constitution. We are discovering the limitations of our governmental and free enterprise systems that must be overcome by people working together with personal and shared responsibility to maintain the quality of life and the values that serve our collective and individual interests.
Adopted in 1787, our forefathers organized our system of democracy. Having established the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, they designated a separation of powers between them. This separation serves as a system of checks and balances helping them to function together so that we can be confident about our future. At the same time, the same U.S. Constitution provides for the balance of power between the federal government and the states.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision with respect to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), informally referred to as Obamacare, demonstrates the application of constitutional principles on both fronts. It upheld the individual mandate under the taxing authority as opposed to the commerce clause and precluded the federal government from withholding Medicaid funds from states that choose not to participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion.
Scholars and politicians will undoubtedly parse the complicated ruling unrelentingly over the next few months and its impact on the upcoming elections remains to be seen. It is important to note that the lengthy opinion gives guidance to the legislative branch about how the law must be written to be upheld. The campaign will give guidance to the next legislative session about how to improve upon it.
That does not mean this is a “done deal.” This is a process, a continuum of actions. It will continue to change over time; it is a developing series of actions by all participants. And it is important that we all participate.
We need to listen and learn and apply a little American ingenuity to reach agreement. We need dialogue that carries us toward solutions and away from obstructionism and isolation. We need less rancor, less name-calling, less noise, less animosity. We need more respect for each other, more civil discourse and debate that leads to the solution of problems.
Compromise has become a “dirty” word. It seems that people are choosing to disagree rather than seek agreement. That only postpones the problems and makes them worse. Compromise does not necessarily mean acquiescence or giving in to the other side. It means hammering out an agreement that works to benefit of each side in the negotiations. The goal is to create a win- win.
What bothers me most are those who stop, stonewall, arrest, avoid, block, break, cease, close, cutoff, cut, choke, clog, desist, disrupt, forestall, hinder, impede, interrupt, intercept, muzzle, obstruct, occlude, plug, put a stop to, rein in, repress, restrain, seal, shut down, shut off, shut out, silence, stall, staunch, stay, stem, still, stopper, suspend, throw over, turn off, and ward off any attempts at working together to improve, fix or resolve our challenges. Any of these actions or responses gets in the way of learning from each other.
We have never before faced the circumstances and challenges that we face today. We find ourselves confounded by labels, political parties, red states, blue states, gender, race, religion and so many other constructs that push us away from being Americans. At a time when the pace of change from technology and global competition is challenging us to rethink how we conduct business and compete, we must find answers that move us forward.
Let’s raise the dialogue. Let’s elevate the thought level. Let’s seek solutions. Promote debate. Promote answers. Incremental steps or giant leaps are hugely important to finding our way in this new world.