Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Thursday
    Dec022010

    The Lamest of the Ducks

    "We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability.  But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two.  "At least," as one man said, "there's one advantage about death; it doesn't get worse every time Congress meets." ~Erwin N. Griswold

    I’m crushed between two Lame Duck sessions. One of which I am more tangentially involved with than the other but still, there’s all of that milling about and waiting that comes with a Lame Duck session. Then again waiting and more waiting is par for the course when it comes to dealing with any legislative body but with a Lame Duck there isn’t an incentive to get anything done. No one is meticulously watching every move a legislator makes save for the usual suspects in punditry. Long gone are the days where voters actually cared enough to worry about every other vote a legislator made in order to use their vote to kick ‘em all out of office. Been there, done that. Those who have survived are breathing a quick sigh of relief but head back to a capital city only to be reminded of how much things are going to change. There are new sheriffs in town ready to shake things up. Ironic since during a congressional leaders meeting today at the White House, the President sat with the likes of John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Eric Cantor, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Same as, same as but different. Or so they’d like for us to believe. Dynamics are changing and when you step into a Capitol you can feel it in the air. There are the hellos from members who will soon be departing. I force a smile back and say “Fine, and you?” when they ask how I’m doing. Then again I really don’t want to know how they’re doing as I am afraid to ask. It’s those times that I lean back and think about putting my best foot forward to run for office. The giving up of time and finances in pursuit of public service* (in my mind I ignore that some people run not for altruistic purposes but because they want to be King of the World). In the end these are the people that lose and it’s difficult to say “I’m awesome! I just got a tan and drank beers on the beach!” when they genuinely say, “How are you?” But I digress. The thing about a life in politics is the acceptance of transience. No one will win all of the time and though I kick the ground and shake my head in disappointment, we wouldn’t be the country that we are if it weren’t for the possibilities of change in power. Anyway, I’m cheerful despite the loads of Lame Ducks about. It is what it is and talking about the whys and how’s of a month ago won’t change the what is of today. Worrying about yesterday won’t help you tomorrow.

    Some highlights of the Lame Duck session, which, for the record ,is somewhat disappointing as it is when legislative bodies fear nothing so they tend to do nothing. I like to read about all of the nothing. The Tax Cut piece by Politico is my personal favorite:

    Tax cuts in Black in White via Politico

    This Week is Do or Die for DADT via Jezebel

    President Obama post Leaders Meeting

    GOP post Leaders Meeting

    *I have very strong feelings about public service. Remind me to finish getting them dow
    Wednesday
    Nov172010

    Compromise This!

    “Downside: Leaders in Washington can't even schedule a simple meeting. Upside: name plates will be ready for high chairs once they do meet.” - John Dickerson


    Let’s just get this little fact about me out of the way: I want what I want when I want it. If I suddenly find myself jonesing for a piece of strawberry shortcake, I want some damn strawberry shortcake. I want to stomp on those diet books that say “If you’re craving something sweet try some grapes!” Grapes, shmapes. I want whipped cream on my chin and angel food cake in my belly.

    People who know me know that I’m not really one for compromise but because I am 27 years old I will do so. Begrudgingly of course and maybe with a little passive aggressiveness sprinkled on top. The key is that I do it. Now given my proclivity towards getting my way, one would think that I would be all gung ho over this Hell No to Compromise sentiment going on in the Beltway. But I’m not. Here’s why:

    We elect representatives to both houses of Congress to represent us and our interests. Of course we also vote for them based on their positions on issues and their subjectivity but there’s a point where it is imperative for us to step back and question whether or not a Representative’s opinions are harming us and the country. Putting a foot down to compromise is not only selfish but possibly destructive and contrary to what members are supposed to be doing while in Washington, which is to move the country along (and forward). Gridlock does not equal movement. Government shutdown - or a threat to do so - does not equal movement. It all goes against what I believe and hope we all want which is to get better and as of now I have the sneaking suspicion that we’ll be wading in the murky waters of “No YOU go first” for a few months.

    I’m exasperated and angry to say the least. I should also add disheartened. I have a bit of a soft spot for Congress which leaves me with a Pollyanna-ish outlook on how members should behave. So when I hear of grown ass adults acting like a two year old whose mommy wouldn’t let him play with the remote, I get annoyed. My mood worsens when I read storiesabout entire groups and organizations who are also charged with representing the interests of their members saying that they would refuse to work with representatives of certain parties. My eyes bug out of my head when I hear things like that; that adults cannot put their own agendas, feelings and bullshit aside in order to be true representatives.

    We all have “Me first” moments. We all fall prey to our own needs and wants. And though I, personally, sometimes crave a decidedly “liberal” agenda I am adult enough to know that everything I want might not be best for the country. But I could be wrong; what do y0u think of this whole Gridlock or Bust/I’m not sharing my toys with you type behavior going on in Washington?
    Wednesday
    Nov102010

    The Days After

    "Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right."  ~H.L. Mencken

    In 2004 I was the executive assistant to one of the Deputy Campaign Managers of Kerry/Edwards. You remember Kerry/Edwards don’t you? Vaguely? Kerry was the guy who went water skiing in Nantucket which is the best way to shore up Democratic base votes. Edwards was the guy who...well...at the time he was charming and attractive and The Next Big Thing in politics. Now he’s divorced with a three year old. Regardless, in 2004 they lost. It felt like a swift punch to the gut that night. There was the inevitable anger after spending months of my life invested in this campaign only to see it end thanks to the mercurial nature of the American electorate. The day after, I walked around Farragut North and went grocery shopping for the first time in months. I remember looking at people as they perused the aisles of Trader Joe’s and shushed babies; everything was so normal. Alarmingly so. Did these people not realize what had occurred the evening before? There was exasperation in the voice in my head because why didn’t they look concerned that our only saving grace from the Bush administration had lost? They were just going on about their business as if nothing had happened and everything inside of me demanded answers as to how they could just go along without analyzing every single fuck up of the previous year.

    I’m shaking my head while writing this because at 21 naivete was my strong suit. Adorable little Heather full of hope and joy and demanding to know why people do the things they do and why they don’t spend hours camped out in front of CNN playing Monday morning quarterback with every election. Probably because people have lives. Crazy, right?

    There was no Monday morning QBing going on last Wednesday. Did I feel let down and devastated on Tuesday night? Yes. I felt like the wind had been sucked out of my sails. But on Wednesday I didn’t contemplate where something went wrong. In fact, Wednesday morning I slept until 10:30 and then went about my day. But how exactly does one who is so deeply ensconced in the political process go from being outraged by an election one year to being all “Yeah, that sucked. Ah well” six years later? Easily. Age helps. As does the realization that elections in a democracy are by definition the opportunity for citizens to express their displeasure in the direction of the country. If people are not happy then it is their right to voice their concern with the leadership. Period.

    Could things have gone better? God, yes. But I have been looking at it this way: We live in the land of convenience and fickle behavior. We also live in a place with generous return policies. We’re people who return a shirt because it doesn’t make our boobs look great or return the Ahi Tuna entree because it isn’t as rare as we would like for it to be. If we are unhappy then we have more than ample opportunity to get our money back or complain and like that, we are satisfied. Members of the 111th congress had the opportunities to fix things and they didn’t fix things fast enough for some people’s liking. (Well that on top of having an administration who didn’t adequately express what they had accomplished. But I digress). So they were returned to their hometowns to make room for a Republican congress who would get shit done and do so better and faster. That’s as simply as I can state what happened on November 2nd without over-analyzing each and every decision. People were unhappy so they took it upon themselves to change things.

    We are particular people. We like things how we like them and as quickly as possible. We are impatient. We tap our feet while in line and we are the first to express our displeasure in most every situation. The Democrats didn’t deliver in a timely fashion. So the response was “Fine. We’ll find someone who will.” Do I personally find that to be the most rational way to approach running a country? No. Do I think that come January 30th everything will be all better with puppies and roses? Hell no. So I’ll just sit back and let them try.