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HALL: Not our father's government

My Dad is at that point in his life where he likes to talk much more about things in the past than about things in the future. He will talk about current events but only as a segue to compare them once again to things in the past.

It always starts out with an attention getter based on something that is in the news and you can then bet your grandmother’s egg money that he is bracing you for that all too familiar comment of “Let me tell you how they used to do it. “ Or, “That ain’t the way that they used to do it.”

Admittedly, some days I am less excited than others about sitting through a rehash of some history lesson that I probably have heard, or should have heard, many times before. However, my occasional lack of reciprocal repartee never alters his conversation until he has covered all of the fine points of the topic. Sometimes, but not often, I agree with him for the most part, but make no mistake, my concurring with his point is never necessary for him to claim victory in these typically one sided debates.

With all that is going on in our country currently, his range of subject matter is like hunting on a baited field. And as the conversations and “the way they used to it” diatribes have continued, I have found myself more often than not in agreement with him. Maybe there is something to that whole circle of life nonsense that Mufasa talked about. Maybe he’s been right all along. Who knows?

The recent activities with our government cannot be defined as anything less that an absolute and disgraceful debacle. No matter where you might find yourself, as to who you blame, my Dad’s words never rang more true in that “that most certainly ain’t the way that they used to do it.” It doesn’t matter if you support the democratic or republican view, if you are honest with yourself, your overriding feeling should be one of total contempt of those who are in place to lead this country.

As with every other thing in life, there are obvious individual exceptions to the rule. Several Congressmen and Senators came out and begged for some sort of rational thinking but as a whole, what happened during the shutdown would have to be considered an epic failure to our system of government.

How is it that this very same form of government has been able to trudge through for the past few hundred years, including some fairly impressive obstacles, but now at least gives the appearance, of being obsolete based on recent events? I would submit that it is not the system that has failed us but more those and their completely partisan ideologies that control the system, that have failed us.

When did we get to the point that everyone in the country has to agree on everything in order to move forward?

Instead of a system that practices negotiations, give and take, and an effort to find some common ground, our nation ‘s political system has turned into a really bad reality television show where stupid sound bytes are more important than real meaningful dialogue that can actually make a difference. We have fully adopted the Hatfield and McCoy strategy where discussion is not only unwanted, but also not deemed as an essential part of reaching solutions.

That strategy didn’t work for them and it will not work for us. It is difficult to have any discussion where one side or the other goes into the discussion by proclaiming that they will absolutely not negotiate on certain issues. That usually proves to be a very short meeting and a complete waste of time. Our legislative system is based on different lines of thoughts that are separated by a clear and unobstructed aisle that runs down the middle. Historically, we have depended on movement from either side to meet somewhere in that aisle to get things done.

That aisle is now more like a piranha infested, wild river and the only way to communicate with the other side is try and swim through some very difficult currents without getting eaten in the process. In the meantime, those who refuse to swim and prefer to stand stubbornly on both banks, secretly hope that the more rational swimmers, and their message, will simply drown in the process. Making a point, or a stand as they like to call it, is apparently much more important than what is best for our country.

One of my favorite things in the world is hot tea. But I always remember that it takes three good things to make a good cup of tea. First you must have good clean drinkable water. Then you must have a suitable and leak proof pot that allows that water to simmer and eventually come to a boil. Then, and only then, do you add the tea bag, which creates the flavor. When all three work in concert, a lovely cup of hot and tasty tea is the reward.

However, when they fail, in part or in all parts of the process, all you have is a leaky pot of undrinkable water with nothing to show but a soggy and tasteless tea bag which rapidly sinks to the bottom of the pot, leaving a stain on what once was a shiny porcelain cup. That’s more often how it turns out now but as my Dad will be quick to remind you, that is not the way that it used to be.

Stan L. Hall is the executive director of the Gwinnett Sports Commission and Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.