Questions, answers and compromise

Whines & Roses

 “And I went down to the demonstration; To get my fair share of abuse; Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration, If we don’t, we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse . . .

“You can’t always get what you want — You can’t always get what you want — You can’t always get what you want,

But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find

You get what you need . . .”

— The Rolling Stones, 1969

That song kept rolling around in my brain last week. A great metaphor for the state of the nation.

It began early last week when I woke up one day and the first thing I saw on my Facebook feed was someone tagging me in a post about a supposed action by President Biden and the question: Cecile Wehrman, Are you really okay with this?

After setting the record straight, because the supposed policy was being misrepresented, I made a concerted effort to scroll by incendiary social media conversations, none of them friendly or particularly constructive, for the rest of the week.

People will fight over anything now, including whether Dr. Jill Biden wore the same color to her husband’s inauguration as Melania Trump. Answer: Not even close. More importantly, Who cares?

A lot of people are talking about the executive action on the Keystone Pipeline. Last week I looked up a bunch of facts about the project, intending to write a column, before coming to this conclusion: There is no way to sum up 10 years of a political football in 800 words or less, let alone on a Facebook post, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of people from trying.

Which brings me to the subject of presidential executive actions. Biden signed 42 in his first 10 days in office.

Cecile Wehrman, are you really okay with that?

Answer: No.

But let’s take a closer look.

According to Wikipedia, Donald Trump was on pace to issue more executive orders than any President yet. He issued 220 in four years. That’s less than the number issued by three two-term predecessors, but if he had been re-elected and kept the same pace he would have topped his nearest competitor by nearly 60 orders.

Recapping Biden’s orders: nearly half are directly related to COVID emergencies from the extension of delays for student debt repayment to constructing frameworks for better delivery of COVID aid from testing to vaccines to stimulus payments. The rest were almost entirely aimed at rolling back action taken in executive orders written by Trump.

While the COVID actions are needed, this is no way to run a country, clearly.

Why would anyone invest billions of dollars in a pipeline based on an executive order that could so easily be reversed? (Never mind the fact private lawsuits had already halted completion of the pipeline before Biden’s order.)

I am disappointed that Biden has fallen into the same trap of executive orders — one he campaigned against — but the greater problem lies in Congress, which can’t seem to pass legislation of any kind. If we don’t want a country ruled by edicts that can be changed every four years, we all need to put as much effort into writing our representatives as we do writing Facebook posts.

Somehow, over the years, we seem to have lost touch with the reality that, indeed, we can’t always get what we want. Any of us. Without compromise, and respect, no society can thrive or make any kind of progress.

I spent several hours last weekend driving in the dark. Each time an oncoming traveler approached, I dimmed my brights and was appreciative of each time the approaching car did likewise. Of course there were a few cars that didn’t observe this rule of the road.

Who among us hasn’t become so annoyed by this uncivil behavior that we’re tempted to punish them by turning on our brights in those last moments before our paths cross? It kind of seems like we’re all traveling on a dark road now. And we all have the option of dimming our brights to oncoming traffic or flashing them in punishment.

I know which road I would rather travel on.

Likewise, now that the initial flurry of executive actions is past, I hope our new president will get back to the unity building he promised. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor a new presidential administration in 14.

No one gets everything they want in a Democracy, but working together, our nation has historically been able to provide us with what we need.

I’ll dim my lights for you, if you dim your lights for me.

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