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More Cliffs Ahead, But Congress Isn't
Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 70 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)

If we trace back the accepted opinion that Congress is broken, a turning point came right after President Obama's first inauguration when Sen. Mitch McConnell, speaking for all Republicans, it seems, said that his mission was to make Obama a one-term president. The intractable divisions that made the fiscal cliff a nightmare - and a ridiculous spectacle - go back much further, as everyone knows.

But David Brooks exploded conventional wisdom when he said that the chief myth in politics today is that a reasonable nation is saddled with an irrationally antagonistic Congress. In reality, Brooks points out, voters don't want to make sacrifices, and they elect those candidates who uphold their refusal. Republican districts send congressmen who refuse to raise taxes. Democratic districts send congressmen who refuse to touch entitlements. The will of the people is being carried out.

The problem is that the will of the people in this case is stubbornly wrong-headed. During the run-up to the fiscal cliff dive, many commentators said that a grand bargain could be drawn up in half an hour if both sides would just be reasonable. What stood in the way was politics. Yet it seems more true to say that a divided nation is standing against itself.

With many cliffs looming in the future, it will take a crisis every time to provoke both sides to reach a deal, and the deals are likely to be incremental. But that's okay, because the national will needs time to shift. On the role of government, right versus left is a disagreement that runs as deep as racial inequality once did or the vote for women or the right of gays to marry. It's worthwhile to believe in process, since the alternative - one side crushing the other - leads to unhealed wounds and long, long resentments.

If John Boehner really told Harry Reid to go f--- himself, it's in keeping with calling the President a liar during his State of the Union address, the birther smear, the use of Willie Horton to terrify voters with the specter of an angry black male, and Nixon's Southern strategy, which signaled with a wink and a nod that racism was respectable. The whole trend has led to deep divisions because, as I see it, the forces of reaction have profited from the worst impulses in human nature. To be on the good side of that trend means not giving in to it. The same holds true for aspects of reactionary politics that are not so unsavory or immoral, such as dismantling the social welfare state, crippling government, removing environmental controls, and constantly inflating the defense budget. These cliffs are unavoidable until the national will is weaned off right-wing values. It takes time, patience, and a steady moral compass.

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I understand and totally agree with you but what can I as 1 person do about it. Where do you start? I am retired now but I have gone from being middle class to being lower class. What has happened when you have young people in the grocery store trying to sell you their food card. Young 30 year olds getting disability and riding all over on brand new Harley Davidson motorcycles. People burning their houses down to collect the insurance. And I won`t even mention the young people, not scared of nothing or nobody, killing, stealing, lying and strung out on drugs. Where do we begin and how many we`s will it take to see a difference.
Jimmiemc - January 10, 2013
The term \"entitlements\" is a pejorative term, and inaccurately used by both sides of the political aisle. Social Security is not an \"entitlement\". Medicare is not an \"entitlement\". Both of these support structures, funded by the taxpayers and for the taxpayers, could easily be made solvent with just a bit of common sense. Raise the cap on wages subject to the payroll tax, and the social security funding issues goes away. Do away with private insurers who are nothing more than unnecessary parasites in the health care system, and health care costs go down about 30%. Allow medicare and medicaid to bargain with the pharmaceutical giants to buy drugs in bulk at lower cost (the way the Veterans Administration does) and the cost of these drugs plummets.\n\nI disagree that the problem is that taxpayers don`t want to sacrifice. Corporations and the 1% (who have bought our elected representatives lock stock and barrel) don`t want to sacrifice.\n\nStatistics show the middle class has been \"sacrificing\" for the last 30 years while corporations and the top 1% are feeding at the trough. Government and tax policies are rigged to benefit the few and hurt the many. I highly recommend Richard Wolf`s \"Capitalism Hits the Fan\", available on Youtube.
Jana - January 10, 2013
Deepak, I LOVE your work, but this article is incredibly DISAPPOINTING to me. If we play the pointing fingers game, we could go round and round for years. Though the present political situation seems to be a nightmare, opposing political IDEALS and VALUES can carry truth and good intention. You seem to have reduced the right to a misunderstood stereotype. To come to any type of agreement, we must be open to UNDERSTANDING WHY the \"opposition\" feels the way it does. I expected more from you.
Artistglover - January 10, 2013
Deepak,I love you, man!I can\'t agree more with you! By the way i\'m from Bulgaria,and quite a few books of yours including the last 2 are not translated in Bulgarian.Please do something about it with your publishers.Best regards.
Peter Kostov - January 7, 2013
A film that will stay with you for years!
Samsara - January 7, 2013
I\'ve recently asked. What is the difference between a cliff and an abyss? What\'s up with the debts of the individual states? Or are they within the more than $ 16,000,000,000,000 included? A long number. The households also have liabilities. How high is the U.S. debt? I do not know.
Heimo Alexander Kruschinski - January 7, 2013
Dear Deepak, much appreciated the insight regarding politics. I love my country and just find that getting any real deep insightfullness around this issue is nearly unexistant, and your` articles are not only insightfull but healing for me because you are able to take current events to the next level. lol,
indieside - January 6, 2013
The attitude across the board is that the end justifies the means, except that there is no end. This is not just true of the republican led congress but with the democratic led congress also. Pelosie solidified the trend of holding the congress hostage, waiting for the right time, for their President to be elected. But even when that happened, even when a filibuster proof democratic majority was in place, when the democrats could have passed any law they wanted, they fumbled, afraid of public opinion, afraid of losing the next election, and with that fear attracted the formation of the Tea Party. The time, for doing anything, is now. Not waiting for a perfect power structure.
Bobbyautocrat - January 6, 2013