Where Has All the Sanity Gone?

By Jennifer Kottler 7-27-2011

Where has all the sanity gone?

I, for one, never expected in my wildest dreams to pine for the days of Ronald Reagan. But I'm there.

And for everyone who is blaming "everyone" on this debt ceiling debacle, you're just dead wrong. The Democratically controlled House and Senate in the 80s did not hold President Reagan hostage when he had to raise the debt ceiling. And that is exactly what is happening. And the problem is that this is a train wreck that has been months in the coming. The only thing that we don't know is how bad the carnage will be.

But we do know who's going to be hurt most: It's the people who come to my church's front door every day. It's the guy I met last week who is trying to make ends meet with a $300 per week job (in New York City) with three kids and a wife, on parole, and at the end of his rope. He doesn't need piecemeal charity; he needs an economic system that rewards hard work and allows him to work and provide for his family. He doesn't want to end up back in prison, but he knows that he might go back to the underground economy so that he can feed his family. It was 104 degrees here last week, and he's already thinking about his kids needing winter coats and boots and school supplies.

So let's ruin an already weak economy because it's really not going to hurt the people who make the decisions -- the millionaires in Congress, and the corporate executives who put them there.

It's also going to cost lives in the drought ravaged Midwest, and the poverty-stricken Global South. When elephants fight, it's the mice that get trampled.

I can't stay silent any longer. I'm calling my member of Congress (Praise Jesus! I have one to call again, now that I am no longer living in Washington, D.C. ) and my senators. But they are not holding up the process. You who live in "red states" and "red districts" need to raise your voices and let them know that there will literally be hell to pay if they don't do something about this now. It's not about ideology. It's about the economy, stupid.

Trust me, I get the fact that these people only care about one thing -- defeating Obama. At this point, I could care less about that. I care about the fact that the number of people coming to my church is multiplying and my capacity to help them is shrinking. And I'm sitting here on Park Avenue in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It's also one of the most expensive places to try and make ends meet if you are on the wrong end of the income spectrum. I can only imagine what my ministry colleagues are facing in other places.

So I'm pleading with whatever sanity remains in Washington to not take our country down over your political agenda. Give Obama the courtesy to do what he needs to do to run the country. You've got another 15 months to make your case that you could run things better. And if you think we'll forget about this, you're wrong. The people in need will keep coming to my door. I wish I could send them to yours.

portrait-jennifer-kottlerRev. Jennifer Kottler is the associate pastor at Park Avenue Christian Church in New York, New York. A long-time advocate for justice, Jennifer has served in advocacy ministry for more than eight years through her work at Protestants for the Common Good (Chicago, IL), the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, the Chicago Jobs Council, and at Sojourners.

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