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This nation lacks leadership in both parties.
Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans come away unscathed by this week's federal government shutdown. While members of the two parties might exclusively blame the other, most others view the situation as incompetency at its finest and an argument for elimination of parties altogether.
The non-partisan system employed in local government is superior. The candidates aren't overtly political. The candidates don't seek office as Democrats or Republicans. They run on their name, their record, their views and their capabilities. Period.
The voting public might be aware to some extent of a local candidate's political affiliation, especially in a town the size of Ketchikan. But that isn't the line in the sand for voters. No, in local politics, it's about the person, not about the party.
That's what the federal government needs more of — just people who want to serve the public and make the system work efficiently and cost effectively. Truly, if those people exist in Congress, it's difficult to recognize them this week. Their leaders or lack of leaders is making sure of that.
Leaders come to the table with the intent of truly wanting to work together, understanding that one side or the other won't get everything it wants, and unwilling to compromise one's character in an attempt to win at any cost.
Part of the problem for Congress is that it has it too good. It is well paid and its pay will keep coming despite a government shutdown. Its members live in one of the nation's economic bubbles, where business is very good and life is financially sweet. They don't feel the pain of joblessness that millions of Americans do. Unless they've mismanaged their personal finances to the point they resemble the federal government's financial status, then they can pay their bills and no uncertainty exists over the next few days, weeks, months or however long the political powers will extend the shutdown.
It isn't any different in the White House; they're living the good life there, too.
The federal government needs elected leaders who at some point in their life had to work hard for a living and aren't enamored with Washington, D.C., and all of the privileges it provides. Some of those people might have been elected, but either it's been too long ago or there aren't enough of them.
It will be up to the people at the local level to find effective leadership in next year's congressional elections.
The shutdown isn't healthy for this country and is an improper way to operate. It isn't operation at all. It isn't what the public expects of its government.
The public expects cooperation and getting the job done. It expects leadership.
That's not to say that it expects big government — on the contrary. If there are ways to cut the size of government, then Congress should identify them and do it. Government isn't the answer. Hard work in the private sector in tandem with sufficient government is.
But both of them have to be open for business to get a job done and make the economy thrive.
It takes real leaders to do that. Based on where the federal government stands now, those are missing in action.