The ACP Advocate Blog
by Bob Doherty
Thursday, October 27, 2011
What Washington Might Learn from Dr. Seuss
With reports that the debt reduction “Super Committee” may deadlock, it’s time to bring in the spirit of Dr. Seuss to administer some emergency medicine! All 12 Super Committee members should be required to read the tale of the North-going and South-going Zax, from Dr. Seuss’s 1961 “Sneetches and Other Stories,” a modern day parable story for children about what happens when two stubborn individuals refuse to compromise. Excerpts:
"I say! You are blocking my path. You are right in my way. I’m a North-Going Zax and I always go north. Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!"
"Who’s in whose way?" snapped the South-Going Zax. "I always go south, making south-going tracks. So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move and let me go south in my south-going groove."
Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride. "I never," he said, "take a step to one side. And I’ll prove to you that I won’t change my ways if I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!"
"And I’ll prove to YOU," yelled the South-Going Zax, "That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax for fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule that I learned as a boy back in South-Going School. Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least! Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east! I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will if it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!"
But the World Didn’t Stand Still . . .
(Now, just replace the North-going and South-going Zax with John Boehner, or Mitch McConnell, or Barack Obama, or Harry Reid, and you’ve got today’s Washington described to a T!)
But it’s not just the politicians who need a counseling session with Dr. Seuss, it’s all of us.
It is we who in 2008 elected a president who pledged to reform health care, which he did, and it is we who in 2010 elected a House of Representatives that pledged to overturn it, which they are trying to do, and it is we who also voted last year to keep Democrats in charge of the Senate, which they are, virtually ensuring deadlock, which is what we have gotten.
It is we, the public, who “have become more doctrinaire at both ends of the ideological spectrum, a polarization that reflects the current atmosphere in Washington” reports the well-respected Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Pew also found that “Core GOP groups largely prefer elected officials who stick to their positions rather than those who compromise. Solid Liberals overwhelmingly prefer officials who compromise, but the other two Democratic groups do not.”
The dangerous reality is that we don’t have 59 days or 59 years to make progress on the deficit, on health care reform, on jobs, on so much more. But how can we expect politicians to make the necessary compromises if we, the voters, insist that they act like the Zax, refusing to budge, not an inch to the west, not an inch to the east, even if it causes the whole country to stand still?
Today’s question: What do you think Congress, and all of us, can learn from the Zax?
About the Author
Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog
Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.Follow @BobDohertyACP
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