World War I was credited with the introduction of mechanization. With the use of deadly machine guns and tanks, it was aptly named the war to end all wars. It also introduced another component−trench warfare. Vast armies dug deep trenches hundreds of miles long facing each other. For months on end, they stayed in these trenches occasionally peeking out and lobbing cannon at each other. But mainly they stayed put. The land between the trenches was referred to as no man’s land. It was called that because no man dared venture out onto it. It was too dangerous.
At the beginning of the war not much happened and more soldiers died from disease than actual fighting. But eventually, the armies knew that to gain ground, to gain victory and to bring the war to a close, they had to move into no man’s land. They had to take the risk or nothing would happen. Eventually, their thoughts became actions. They moved into no man’s land and the war ended.
I find many parallels to the strategy of trench warfare to today’s political climate. Our representatives like the soldiers of World War I, have become more and more entrenched in their thinking and their actions. Republicans, Democrats, and other political factions have their heads down in the trenches and are avoiding no man’s land or as it’s referred to politically−common ground. Common ground is the place where things get done. And, unfortunately, it’s being avoided like the plaque. Our elected representatives have moved away from representing “we the people” to represent “we the party.”
James Madison, credited with being the main architect of our Constitution realized in 1787 that to get the Articles of Confederation approved compromise among the various States was necessary. Madison realized that compromise was the essential ingredient in the recipe to get things done. Our founding fathers presumed Congress would be fraught with disagreement but expected different points of view to blend into compromising legislation.
The current approval rating for Congress is floating around 20%. Hardly encouraging. It’s not low because they lack the requisite intellect to come up with good ideas it’s because they can’t turn those ideas into actions and get things done. Today compromise is like a dirty word. It’s almost seen as blasphemous and traitorous to work with or give credit to the other side. I am not suggesting that we don’t have any bipartisanship at all, but the efforts are often under-reported. The media as a whole cares little about bipartisanship because it doesn’t fit their narratives. Today, salacious attacks lead the way. And the more salacious the better. Who wants to lead with a boring story about two sides coming together? How does that help your side and your ratings? And besides who can claim the credit? Which side of the trench wins that? But alas there is some hope.
Recently Congress passed the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Act. Have you heard much about it? Probably not. Nonetheless, it was a bipartisan victory. We need more of these victories because there is still much to be done. And it can only be done through compromise. Bipartisanship has a strong record of success. Let’s tell Congress we are tired of the trenches.
Here are some things you can do:
- Contact your representatives and insist they adopt a platform of bipartisanship and not give it lip service.
- Insist that they return to representing the people and not just their party.
- Remind them of why they were elected.
- Remind them of their approval rating
- Ask them what they have accomplished since being elected. Tweets don’t count.
- Ask your representative to join the Problem Solvers Caucus
- Tell them to give credit where credit is due regardless if it’s the other side.
The bottom line……we are tired of gridlock and inefficient government. Congress needs to move out of the trenches and into the most valuable real estate in the country−common ground. If not, the war will last a long time and nothing will get done for the American people.
That’s my take. What’s yours?
Stephen Phillip Monteiro is a law enforcement, security and intelligence consultant. He’s held senior leadership positions with consulting firms in Washington, DC and is a retired Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Visit his website: http://www.thegoodamerica.com to leave your comments.