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September 5, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

American dream 2.0

If the country is to move ahead, politics will need to change in 2013

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To start 2012, we wrote this on Jan. 1:

“We certainly hope the new year will bring better news — significantly better. Recently, there have been signs that economically things are improving, but there is still a long way to go. The question is if the nation will see any significant progress over the course of this year.

“It will be difficult to make much progress because this is an election year and much of the nation’s leadership will be enmeshed in election-year politics. Work in Washington, which has been painful to watch, could grind to a halt, particularly if the parties think they stand to benefit by pushing things off until after the November elections, when they might win control of both Congress and the White House.

“But waiting for the elections would be a major mistake, as would continuing politics the way they played in 2011. The country is in need of change.”

Here we are at the end of the year, and the election is over. Yet things haven’t changed much. Although the country has continued to show signs of economic improvement, politics is still gridlocked and, in many respects, only seems to be worse.

Witness the “fiscal cliff” negotiations coming down to the last minute. This is a matter that could have been handled a year ago — even weeks ago.

But here we are, facing another avoidable crisis because of the dysfunction in politics.

Part of the problem is that there is no room to negotiate. Everything seemingly has become a matter of non-negotiable principle, whether it’s taxes on the rich or spending programs. Thus, there’s little to discuss.

Look no further than the House of Representatives, which has taken an all-or-nothing approach that some political analysts have compared to Britain’s Parliament. The result is an artificial crisis and lawmakers walking away from finding solutions for important issues.

Given the way Speaker John Boehner, who leads the fractious Republicans in Congress, has handled negotiations with President Barack Obama, there’s little hope that will change any time soon.

In our first editorial of the year, we wrote this:

“We’re not naive enough to think that in a campaign year things will dramatically change. But we do hope that in this coming year the nation’s leaders and those running for office will pause long enough to consider how the election-year politics are — or aren’t — playing out for the average American.”

Most politicians claim to represent the average American or the middle class, and in 2013, we’d love to see them act like it. If they did, they would realize that Americans aren’t tied to a rigid ideology; they just want to see things work.

They want their children and grandchildren to have a better future than they did. They want them to live in safety, get a good education and have a chance at the American dream. They want to see the economy boom and everyone prosper, not just the richest of the rich and the big corporations.

The bottom line is that the political fighting has done nothing to push the nation forward. In 2013, the question is whether Washington will see a change that champions the cause of the middle class, which is really the cause of America.

We can only hope so.

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