Here we are in the midst of summer. The fireworks of Independence Day are a memory and the cookouts of Labor Day are still weeks away. Schools across the country are silent and deserted-looking. But while you can hear a pin drop around them, you can still hear the echoes of the activity that took place in them only a couple of months ago. You can hear the echoes of laughter from the playground where friendships were formed that will last a lifetime. You can hear the echoes of learning that took place in the classrooms where teachers felt this great sense of satisfaction as they saw in the eyes and faces of their students that they were really learning what they were being taught. We are well aware that all schools are not equal across our country. Yet, despite these challenges, we await with hope and anticipation the coming school year when students across our land will return to continue to learn. In Washington D.C. there sits atop a hill the shining white dome of the Capitol. Inside we see the now silent and empty chambers, offices and hearing rooms. Here too we can hear a pin drop. But we can also hear the echoes of activity from the past year. They are the echoes of divisiveness, accusations and obfuscation. As we look toward the return of congress to these hallowed halls, we do so with little hope that things will change and that the work of the nation will get done. But, the real question for us is, will we allow our expectations to become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
As I have watched the Congress since 2008, I find it impossible not to become angry and frustrated. The pointless and vindictive hearings followed by pointless and vindictive press briefings followed by nothing is a pattern created by those who seek only to frame issues and discuss problems, but do nothing about them. I need not point out the little this congress has accomplished or the bushel of false accusations bandied about as if they had merit. There are two noteworthy accomplishments worth mentioning, however. First, they have been able to put aside action on issues such as immigration, gun control, raising the minimum wage, unemployment insurance and many more to take the time to try to repeal the ACA more than 50 times. No congress in history has even come close to this incredible achievement of so blatantly pandering to the base. To put the icing on the cake, just so we would remember them with the fondness and adoration they so richly deserve, they were able to find the time to approve the crucial and meaningful act of suing the President. Yet we are being told by all of the pundits and pollsters that this group of model legislators will be rewarded by reelection and a larger majority. To make matters worse, these same prophets of doom are predicting that the GOP will win a majority in the senate. They tell us that the midterm election in a president’s second term does not go well for the party in the White House.
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we are going to accept this great wisdom as fact, or are we going to break the mold and change our future? The assumption is that this midterm election will be a low-turnout election and the base will determine the outcome. It is expected that the large youth, Latino and African-American voting groups that we saw in 2012 will sit this election out. They think that Independents and women who were both crucial in the victory of 2012 will not make the effort to vote this time around.
The polling booths today are empty and silent. I hear the echoes of elections past when we all made the effort to control our own destiny. I look with hope and anticipation to the upcoming election when I hope we will all do the same and prove the pundits wrong.