Occasionally, while driving to some mundane location, I find myself wanting to pull over in order to shake my sons violently. I resist the urge. Good parents do. We may relish the thought of such violence. But, we do not follow through. Regardless of the temptation.
Usually, such urges are born when my sons are fighting. Verbally and physically. Sitting in the back seat, a foot and a half from each other. Like those oft-illustrated civil war battles. Both sides sniping at close range. Making the occasional charge across the DMZ. Until they are exhausted by the frenzy of it all.
During these occasional bouts of unpleasantry, I often drift into a numb, Zen-like state of inner vacuity. I see the road ahead. Feel the wheel in my hand. Yet, I recognize nothing else around me.
It is that pleasant, vegetative state that all parents call upon when children arouse their fight or flight mechanisms. And they find themselves capable of neither fight nor flight.
Such is the current situation in our nation's capital.
Two groups of spoiled children trying to get what they want with little regard for the car's owners. Screaming. Crying. Slapping. Biting. Taking all of the pleasure out of an otherwise pleasant summer drive.
The electorate, forced into its vegetative state, while our politicians carp and snicker to the narration of a swooning media.
When children fight, they're lack the emotional intelligence required to see the nuances in their opponent's point of view.
But politicians? They recognize the nuances. And attempt to exploit them. For maximum political gain. To the detriment of all.
It is tedious and infuriating. But, in the grand scheme, it is but a gnat on an elephant's ass.
Our nation's greatest achievements have occurred despite the best efforts of the Federal government. And some of our best days occurred despite government shutdowns.
Shutdowns are nothing new. The U.S. has had 17 such occurrences in the past 40 years. Oops. Make it 18.
In 1995, the government shut down for 21 days. That year, the stock market rose 34 percent.
In fact, 1995 began with low expectations. And despite the government's feeble effort, the year sparked a bull market that raged through 2000.
Coming out of the 1994 recession, the nation incurred a jobless recovery throughout which economists and journalists alike argued that stocks had no reason to rise. But, rise they did.
The U.S. economy was creating few jobs. The Mexican financial system had collapsed. Timothy McVeigh committed the worst act of domestic terrorism the nation had ever seen. The war in Bosnia reached its heartbreaking climax. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a religious fanatic. And Republicans and Democrats were at each other's throats like two prepubescent boys in the back of a Miata.
Amidst the chaos, the Federal government shut down for 21 days. Had I written the screen play, related all of the facts, you'd have surmised all the makings of a tragedy. And yet.
While growth was slow as 1995 began, economic traction was just beginning to take hold. New consumer and business technologies were on the cusp of creating a revolution in the way we work, live and play. Fledgling companies like Cisco, Amazon, Yahoo! And eBay were setting the stage for the second half of the decade. One that will forever be remembered for its energy, optimism and productivity.
Today, dual renaissances are transpiring in the energy and biotech sectors. The former may bring us complete energy independence. The latter may set us free from our most dreaded afflictions.
While our politicians senselessly bicker in an ongoing effort to gain the upper hand in a never ending series of elections and political contests, our best and brightest toil to discover greatness.
Today, while the 24/7 news media obsesses over the tragicomic stage play set in the former swamp of our nation's capital, the next Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Sam Walton, Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and Steve Jobs are hard at work.
Somewhere in the hopeful caverns of the private sector, some heroic explorer of man's most noble possibilities has embarked upon a quest for greatness. This quest will not be notable for the publicity sought, the controversy created, or the trouble it creates.
This quest will be recognized for having changed the lives of current and future generations. Suddenly. And out of nowhere. Catalyzing a quantum leap forward for all of mankind. From the imagination. With no taxpayer assistance. With little fanfare from a preachy, paternalistic media.
This great effort shall be born in a world that is entirely unknown in modern American politics: meritocracy.
Where reward is earned. Talent is practiced. And the fruit of one's labor is often the labor itself.
Today we watch as the keepers of our democracy fail to keep her doors open. We observe the carnival barkers and freak show participants. Scaring, intimidating, overpromising and under delivering.
Even as we are forced to bear witness to this misery, wrought at the Federal level, by those appointed to care for a society our children will inherit. Rest assured that greatness is at work. Greatness is out there, toiling, on our behalves. Sweating in obscurity. Celebrating every victory.
Despite today's wretched display of public failure and discord at the highest levels, greatness will triumph. Overcome. Against all odds.
This triumph will be bigger than politics. Beyond petty partisanship. This triumph will be global. Ensuring that, at some point in the future, despite the petty arguments of hyper-political people posing as leaders, our society can and will be better than it is today.