What I want for my Birthday: Grown-up Pols

I am 44 today. Yes, the fireworks are really just for me, and the nation is only celebrating my birthday. At least that’s what mom always told me.
Birthdays always put me in a reflective mood and this one is no different. I live in one of the richest countries in the world. I have all the food I need and then some, hence the club membership. My loving family and I, including my three year-old doppelganger who storms through life with joyful abandon, live in a solid brick house with window treatments. My friends, whose sense of humor makes my stomach ache with laughter, show up when it really counts. I own a pair of Manolo Blahniks. And yet, there is a giant hole in my life.
At this point, many of you are rolling your eyes. What can this self-centered, unbelievably spoiled woman still need? Doesn’t she know there are people dying of malaria living in mud huts in Cambodia because they don’t have clean water? How about people right here in the U.S. who haven’t worked in 14 months, wondering how they are going to feed their kids?
Please stay with me.
What I want for my birthday is something that will undoubtedly help all of those struggling families here and abroad. And I bet it’s what many of you long for, too: Politicians who make decisions together for the common good of the country. A government that does so without name calling, arbitrary partisan line-drawing, and with a nobless oblige that elevates men and women capable of guiding our country through its rough patches. I’m not just looking for the anti-Weiner. I’m talking about statesmen.
For most of my adult life, I have kept my opinions of politicians and politics to myself. That was what I was taught at journalism school. And I followed it to a “T.” As a TV reporter and anchor, I never hinted at my political affiliation, donated to a candidate or attended partisan rallies. I never wore a cross on-air so as not to alienate viewers or my employer, and I tried to the best of my ability to report the facts. A report should say that “President Obama and the Republican House battled over the debt limit today.” Not “the president was a dick.”
It wasn’t until after I spent years getting “the grieving widow on the set,” reporting on location at natural disasters, crying on national television during 9/11, interviewing presidents, Congressmen and celebrities that I realized that putting on the pundit hat, along with a cape and a tiara, could be a powerful thing. Maybe my opinion, not just reporting, could change the way our elected officials act for the greater good.
Now the rhetoric rolls off of my tongue. Politicians need to pledge today to clean up their acts, take responsibility to put the needs of the needy before their own drive to be reelected, stop pointing fingers and acting like kindergarteners who don’t know how to compromise. Put your nose to the grindstone and keep us the superpower our blood, sweat and tears have made us. Why? Not only because you need to do it, but because I’ve earned the right to say so.
As not just a pundit, but a media executive and CEO of a woman-owned business, I implore you: Get the unemployed back to work; pay those Minnesotans who work hard for our country; and stop taking so many recesses. Goodbye crotch shots, goodbye government shutdowns, goodbye selling Senate seats for personal gain.
A Facebook friend who follows my musings wrote on my wall, “Happy birthday, you lib.” It set me back a bit. I do not describe myself as a Liberal. I don’t think, reading this, that you would say my ideas are particularly partisan, because I’m not. I am adopted and pro-life. Those two facts are inextricably linked in my soul. I am willing to pay more taxes to help the poor. As you learned, I have more than enough. I am a proud, practicing Catholic, despite the prominent pedophilia scandals and the paucity of female priests. I want women to earn as much as men. I vote Independent, which means that because I live in Democrat dominated DC-land, my vote never counts.
We all have opinions derived from life experiences. You may despise mine. Hey, I may despise yours. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we put our personal differences and vitriol aside. Help make this country we are celebrating today stronger, more educated and globally responsible.
I bet you know that I know the fireworks aren’t really for me. On the Fourth, all Americans—from purple mountains to fruited plains—no matter what their beliefs, celebrate this great nation. It’s time we join together, harness our pride and encourage our leaders, many of whom are falling down on the job, to fight for those who don’t have a voice. God shed His grace on Thee.

–Lauren Ashburn

Huffington Post,
July 4, 2011

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