I told the story of Slobber and Tulip, Fred and Carol’s two dogs. It’s a horrible story.
So why did I tell it?
Because this isn’t just a true story about two poor dogs and a dysfunctional marriage. It’s a story that illustrates what our political relationship has become.
Remember in 2009 when the Democratic-majority Congress passed the Affordable Care Act? Just like Fred and Carol. Democratic Fred felt the urgency and opportunity to take care of something that was really important to him. He discussed it with Republican Carol and Carol was not able to see Democratic Fred’s perspective. Some would argue Carol didn’t even try. Some would argue Fred just wouldn’t listen. Either way, Democratic Fred felt like he did his best to convince Carol, but in the end, went ahead and passed it without her.
And just this last December (2017), Republican Carol has had her revenge with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. With the tables turned and finding herself in power, she didn’t even really feel like addressing Democratic Fred’s concerns because what’s the point? They weren’t going to see eye-to-eye anyway, so might as well just go ahead and pass it.
We have got to stop doing that. We have to stop passing bills without working together, all together. It’s not good enough to say, “Well, this is for the good of everyone.” No. That is not okay.
Look, it’s not just Fred who needs to change, it’s Carol too — it’s all of us. How different would things be if we were better listeners, better at openly seeking solutions? Would it hurt us to consider someone else’s proposal or point of view? Likely the outcome would be much better for everyone.
If I could, I would sit down with Fred and say, “Fred, don’t do anything without Carol’s approval. Just because she doesn’t see things the way you do doesn’t mean she’s not reasonable or rational. Just because she doesn’t have all the answers doesn’t mean you can just go ahead and do things without her. The results affect both of you, so work it out.”
If I could, I would sit down with Carol and say, “Carol. You need to do better at working with Fred. Simply saying no and waiting for him to come up with a different solution isn’t good enough. Try to see things from his point of view, try to understand his urgency. Demonstrating that you’re an equal partner will give him hope and help him stick with the process until a good solution can be found.”
And to both of them I would say, “Remember that deep down, you both really want the same things. You have more in common than you think.”
*Sigh. That felt good. I could feel a little Mom coming out for a minute there, but you know what? Sometimes that’s what we need.