America in the Emergency Room
Picture this: The sirens are blasting, the doors of the ER burst open, and anxiety is written all over the EMTs as they wheel in a young man. The sheets are dripping with blood. It is clear by where the bloodflow is most fierce that the patient has a hole in his chest. The ER room suspends all activity as everyone turns to him. The ER explodes into life with people grabbing all sorts of medical equipment—people are barking orders to one another—the whole focus of the ER is now on that young man, with his terrifying wound that is carrying his life away without mercy.
A window of opportunity has opened: every step, every appropriate medical procedure must happen now to save this young man’s life. The ER workers must act precisely but quickly to stop death from conquering him. There can be no distractions: no phone calls; no flirting with the cute nurse; no time out for a bite or a cigarette. The window is open, but it is small compared to the overwhelming danger that this young man will die. Yet everyone in the ER is trying to squeeze through that window—not just any solution, but the doctors need the right solution to save him. They do not know exactly when the window of opportunity will slam shut, but everyone knows that it will—and very shortly.
The ambulance with our country in it is rolling up to the ER. It is not too much of a stretch to say our country will shortly be on the gurney, wheeled in and needing expert and an all-hands-on-deck kind of approach to fixing our economy. The Congressional Budget Office is warning us—again—of impending financial disaster if we do not bring spending under control—not too dissimilar from the blood flowing out from our young man’s chest. Current spending and taxes policies means that the national debt will be “almost 200% of gross domestic product in 2037.” This country will collapse well before we reach that point. We now have a window of opportunity, small as it may be, but it is a window, it is open, and when it will slam shut, no one knows.
Republicans, hear this: run this election, and what happens after you gain control of the White House and both houses of Congress, as if this country is about to bleed to death. Squeeze through the window with economic policies that will bring the hemorrhaging deficit under control, and keep a vigil over this patient for the long haul—no quick fixes, but a true program to bring health back to our nation. No distractions: no chasing pages or extramarital affairs.
We either love this country enough to save it, or watch it being parceled out by those who would use it as their own personal piggy-banks, while the country eventually collapses from these current hemorrhaging policies that have depressed and will eventually destroy this country. Act now, Republicans, and you Democrats who see this land worth fighting for—now is the time: the window of opportunity is going to close. We can’t say exactly when, but be assured, it will close.
There are a lot of special interests that rely on members of Congress to keep their troughs filled with taxpayer money: military projects that the Defense Department doesn’t want; farm price supports going to individual farmers and businesses who receive millions of dollars a year; “green” subsidies that the Obama Administration’s corruption has brought into the open, but which are not Obama’s invention; the student loan bubble, which is producing large numbers of heavily indebted college graduates who can’t find jobs.
Yes: we know that the institutions and wealthy individuals who really run things in Washington (regardless of which party is in power) fund political campaigns because they expect to get something back for it. We are not expecting an outbreak of public spiritedness by the people who have corrupted our political system. We do expect them to rein in their greed long enough that the patient gets from the ER into a regular hospital bed, where he can recover, before any more fatal blows are delivered by Washington. Dead patients don’t produce any blood.
This is going to take some real courage: members of Congress are going to have to tell the special interests that demand taxpayer money and special favors to chill out until the economy recovers. Americans have become pretty cynical about the political process, but if Congress and the White House don’t take immediate steps to reduce spending and the ever-growing deficit, this is going to end very badly. When we say “end very badly,” we mean a conflagration that will destroy not just our political system, but risk destroying the accumulated wealth that special interests have sucked out of the Treasury for the last few decades.
Clayton & Rhonda Cramer teach history and English at the College of Western Idaho.