The Common Good
December 2013

Not So Merry Christmas

by Ed Spivey Jr. | December 2013

Sorry, kids, but Santa has some bad news.

DESPITE THE heart-felt and hand-written requests from thousands of American children in their Christmas letters, Santa has just announced he cannot bring them a new Congress this year. He tried, Santa wants us all to know; he tried hard. But he and his elves finally gave up when even the parts imported from China couldn’t make the thing work.

Illustration by Ken Davis

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They first attempted to construct something with U.S.-made components, but it was almost as if the parts didn’t want to work together, like they had minds of their own. This surprised the elves since Congress—which has no apparent moving parts—hasn’t had a sentient thought in years.

However, as a small concession to all those disappointed little children, Santa this year will be honoring Christmas wishes that have traditionally been difficult to fulfill.

If Sally from Shreveport can’t get a workable electoral body in the nation’s capital, then she gets a pony. Simple as that. She asked for it last year—in fact she’s been asking for a long time—but this year she’ll get it. If her parents are not sure what to do with a 600-pound animal that requires constant attention and care, then maybe next time they’ll think twice before voting for a member of Congress who wears a three-cornered hat and proudly refuses to be treaded on, even though nobody’s trying.

And Jimmy in Toledo, if you still want that race car, that real race car, it’s no problem this year. His parents might not think it’s safe for a 6-year-old to have a vehicle that can reach 200 mph before flipping over in the cul de sac, but that’s what happens when mommy and daddy send crazy people to Washington, D.C. (Not to mention the problem of squeezing another car into their garage, which already has two SUVs with bumper stickers that say “Repeal Obamacare! I’m Not Sick!”)

CLEARLY, SANTA is not happy. As a long-time Republican who supports conservative business values—such as a low minimum wage for seasonal workers—Santa has nonetheless been disappointed in House Speaker John Boehner’s failure to control his unruly underlings. (Santa never has problems with subordinates. They’re much shorter than he is.)

Santa raised his concerns directly with Boehner when he ran into him at the salon. Boehner goes to smooth out his tan, and Santa frequently gets his face done. (What, you think it’s easy to keep “cheeks like roses” and “a nose like a cherry”?) But Boehner just scowled at Santa and gave him that look that he’s about to do something he knows he shouldn’t.

I’ve seen that look before.

My 2-year-old granddaughter looks that way when she’s about to poop in her big girl pants. She looks right at you, eyes determined (and a bit watery with the effort), and deliberately does the wrong thing.

She instantly regrets it, of course, because she knows if she does the right thing she gets five M&M’s. And she gets to choose the colors! (Note to parents: Don’t bother with the irate letters-to-the-editor about bribing children. It’s not my fault your 2-year-old isn’t a special  princess worthy of tribute.)

THE COMPARISON between the speaker and my granddaughter ends there, of course, since presumably John Boehner no longer needs sweet inducements to honor standard hygiene practices. And I doubt he even thinks twice about putting on his big boy underwear in the morning when he dresses for the manly responsibilities of governing.

Which now include, if I might suggest, offering M&M’s to tea party members—in their choice of colors!—so they’ll do the right thing. Just make sure to have plenty of red ones. They tend to sulk when they don’t get their way.

And they’d deserve their candy. Because they’re big boys and girls now. And we’re SO PROUD of them when they act that way. 

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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