“Lasting change is a series of compromises, and compromise is all right, as long as your values don’t change.” (Jane Goodall)
As we continue our journey towards the so-called Fiscal Cliff this saying, which of course I found on the Jack's Winning Words blog seemed really apropos. When I thought about it and reflected on the sound bites that we get to see every night on the news - some from President Obama and some from Speaker Boehner - it occurred to me that what we are seeing much of the time is not a display of true underlying values, but rather a stubborn defense of dogma from both sides.
Websters defines dogma thusly -
a: something held as an established opinion; especially: a definite authoritative tenet
b: a code of such tenets <pedagogical dogma>
c: a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds
So then what is a tenet? It is defined thusly -
a principle, belief, or doctrine generally held to be true; especially: one held in common by members of an organization, movement, or profession
So, basically it can be boiled down to this - it's true because we say it's true
There is certainly dogma at work in Washington on the Fiscal Cliff debate right now, on both sides of the aisle in Congress and between Congress and the President. What might have started out as basic underlying or core values of both parties has in recent years hardened into dogma that neither party can now escape in the spirit of compromise; and compromise is certainly what is needed right now.
Every decision that must be made in Washington is now viewed as a political decision, with an eye towards the next election. Politicians, especially those in the House, with only a two year term, are essentially always campaigning, always fund raising and always paying off big supporters with votes in support of their desires. Senators seem to have a bit more leeway, but they too are always mindful of the TV cameras and "how this will play back home."
Very few of our legislators seem to be considering the good of the country or their constituents, just what their "backers" want. The backers are so tight with the legislators that it's been widely reported in the news that they supply the wording that the so-called law-makers then introduce into law. That leaves them more time to go on camera to defend the dogma of their party and play to the audiences back home.
So now the dogma on one side says that people are rich when they make more than $400,000 a year and the other side says, no; they're not rich until they make $1,000,000 a year. All of this plays out on TV every night to an America in which many people consider those to be well off who don't need Food Stamps to survive. How did our core values as a nation get so perverted into dogma? I'd call the beliefs driving the debate in Washington right now drivel rather than even dogma.