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Perspective: The common good is still good for America


By the time this perspective airs we will know if we have a government that can limp along or if our government is completely broken.

And this is about how far our country has moved away from one democracy’s core values of caring for the common good.

Fights in Congress are as old as the legislative process, however I have not seen this depth of dysfunction in my seventy years.

Thomas O’Neill, known as Tip O’Neill, speaker of the House from 1977 to 1987, knew that governing requires deal-making. However, both sides of the debates knew that whatever happened one had to operate with the common good as your compass, not your next election.

In May of 1981 O’Neill drew a sharp line between the budget proposed by Ronald Reagan and the one proposed by a bipartisan committee.

He said, “This Congress exists for the benefit of all the people.”

This was a turning point in American history. At that time members of Congress first started to put party first and America second.

Today, there are those in Congress who care so little about a common good that they want to burn the People’s House down.

I hope I live long enough to see those who care so little for our democratic values pushed back into the dark shadows. And that America can again start to care about the common good.

I’m Dan Kenney, and this is my perspective.

Dan Kenney is a retired elementary school teacher and the founder of DeKalb County Community Gardens. He's also a published poet and writer.