When I retired and moved to Perry city five years ago, I decided to do something that I hadn't been able to do while working: give back to the community by getting involved in a variety of projects that would help Perry city as a whole.
Perry politics are very divisive, just like they are in Washington, D.C. I vowed that I would not vote for anyone who pointed fingers rather than admitting a part in creating the problems.
This week two things happened. I received an e-mail from Senator Hatch -- not a personal note but the kind that is sent out by his office to the masses. It was full of inflammatory language in which he pointed the finger at the other side and blamed it for what's happening.
Then on July 6, the Standard-Examiner published an article entitled, "Bush, Obama on same page when it comes to immigration." The writer pointed out that the 2006 speech on this topic given by Bush and the 2010 speech given by Obama are virtually interchangeable. Hatch was all praise for Bush in 2006. Yet, Hatch's recent e-mail criticized Obama for not doing enough with immigration reform.
I recall a similar occurrence in February 2010. Legislation created by a bi-partisan fiscal commission to make recommendations for reducing the deficit failed because seven Republican senators flip-flopped once Obama endorsed the plan.
Hatch is smart enough to realize that border protection is only one facet of the overall immigration reform. It seems the Republican Party has written this "mantra" on border protection for all party leaders to continually harp about. I have heard the same thing from Bishop, Mitch McConnell, and others.
Remember, these are smart people who we the people elected to Congress to solve our nation's problems, not to parrot the party line. They clearly don't want to address what to do about the 15 million-plus who are here illegally and whose numbers continue to rise. It is obvious from his e-mail, Senator Hatch is setting the groundwork for his 2012 run for a seventh term to remain in power. He knows that he is in trouble. But rather than accept the fact that he will have served admirably for 36 years and it's time to retire, he is pointing fingers in order to be re-elected.
I have a suggestion for Senator Hatch for the two remaining years he will be in office: Rise above the muck and help the nation. Work towards bringing people and parties together. Wouldn't it be nice if he would take just one issue that faces us and lead the charge by teaming up with another member from the other side to make life better for all of us?
I have listed several reform issues that we face from which he could select: immigration, energy, education, drug trafficking, national security, ethics, campaign finance, the Afghan war, etc. If these issues are too big for him to tackle, maybe he could take a subset pertaining to one of these issues and bring it to conclusion. The people would forever be indebted to him for championing their cause and he would be favorably remembered. I believe an effort of this calibre would reveal him as a true statesman.
Leaving office in 2013 will not hurt Mr. Hatch one bit. We have paid him fabulously over the years. We have given him and his family the best of health care and retirement benefits that are the envy of any person in the country. When we elected him, we did so with the understanding that he would serve the nation, that he would lead in solving tough issues, that he would be a statesman.
Talking heads in media are not elected and take great delight in pointing fingers and tearing each other down. An elected leader should not stoop to the gutter to stay in office.
A leader must have the guts to stand up to self-interest groups and loudmouths of their respective parties, the kind our fathers envisioned when they crafted our democratic agenda. Superheroes in a land of lesser mortals.
When I was growing up in India, my parents chastised me and sometimes even spanked me for not getting along with my friends. "Life is full of compromises," they'd say. "You must know how to get along."
At work, when I became a leader over a group of people, I would send those who did not get along to "anger management," "verbal/non-verbal communication," or "interpersonal skills" classes. If the problems persisted, I had them transferred, and in some cases, even terminated.
Fresh in my mind is the recent Republican Primary, during which we witnessed the disgusting way in which Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater were denigrating each other to get elected. What can I do to correct the politicians who misbehave? I can't spank them or send them to remedial classes. But I have a vote. One vote may not seem like much, but it is still mine. And, if we all vow to refuse to vote for any finger pointer, we'll be better off.
Kulkarni is a resident of Perry.