Inside the political bell jar

They came and talked, the politicians did.

Talked about all the important legislation they are working on in the state’s capitol, talked about all the important issues they are debating,  gently chided the other side for inaction, or proudly declared obstruction was a virtue.

They talked about government ethics reform, court appointments, smaller government, pension system and public employees’ sick pay reforms; talked about all the sins of the political system they both inhabit.

They talked about rebuilding the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy and how important it was that leaders in both political parties work together.

And I wanted all that they said to be important.

I wanted it to be thrilling, action-inducing, stirring, words that pulled the business audience out of their seats cheering.

Instead they were words in a political bell jar: Mouths moving in a vacuum, words and ideas trapped in a thick glass of the past as if repeating again and again the worn out mantra of the dying regime would put food on a poor family’s table, clear the traffic from the intersection of Routes 80 and 287, help a disabled worker keep a needed job and apartment; get a veteran off the street, bring computers to a third grade classroom or fix that 100-year-old water main that is about to burst.

I wanted to hear a new vision, an embrace of the many moving parts that are working to solve society’s many woes; wanted to hear how these politicians with access to billions of dollars were planning to change the way they worked, how they brought the legislative plunger top unclog the  jammed plumbing of government, how they would bring wisdom and vision  to the process, instead of politics.

They came and talked, the politicians did.

I could see their mouths moving inside the bell jar.

They should have come later, when a couple dozen people gathered to celebrate the work of the  United Way’s Housing Alliance, where bankers and builders join with non-profit agencies to leverage public and private funds to build homes for families.

They should have been there another night when Family Promise of Morris County celebrated the hundreds of volunteers who work to help families in danger of homelessness into shelters and then back into the  world.

They should have been there yet another night when NewBridge Services celebrated 50 years of catching those who are  falling, picking up those who have fallen; 50 years of taking the hands of the mentally ill, disabled,  the aged and the young and scared,  pulling them back from the whatever edge they have stepped up to, 50 years of shining light into the dark places of our world.

They should have been there on yet even another day when the Housing Partnership brought those in need of a home together with banks and planners and aides who could explain the process, help them take the necessary steps and set them off on that journey.

They should have been there while the world took on the things we need to address, heard stories of families succeeding, heard about the end of pain and worry.

They came and talked, the politicians did.

And while they talked the world moved on.

New Jersey schools and towns talked about how they turned solar energy into new books, fixed roofs, saved jobs and fought off tax increases.

Hospitals, doctors and the medical world worked to untie the knots presented by health care reform

Transportation officials talked about how the industry is transforming itself through new technology that employs new engine designs, new fuels and new management strategies to cut costs and reduce pollution.

Old foes, the environmentalists and the oil companies, agreed on new rules to address the concerns about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

You know progress of some sort is being made when it is the oil producers and equipment manufacturers who talk of reducing their carbon footprint.

And somewhere because of all this, a teen who saw only blackness and defeat picked up a phone and called a NewBridge counselor, a mother and her daughter who the night before were standing in the street homeless found a temporary place to stay in a Family Promise shelter, a family in need of more space talked to a financial counselor and took the first steps toward saving, a plan that could lead to a home of their own.

Somewhere because of this good rippled through our society; someone hurt a little less.

And somewhere they came and talked, the politicians did.






About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply