Kimberly Schwartz

These days, the political pundits are all saying that the new scene in Washington, D.C., will be a constant tug o’ war. Everyone anticipates a battle between the newly elected, Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama administration.

While tug o’ war may not be the most efficient model for government, I’m all for it.

Yes, I know that it may mean lots of posturing and frequent attempts by each side to characterize the other as a “party of no.” We may hear a lot of terms like “stalemate” and “obstructionism.” Obviously, this isn’t the type of news I enjoy hearing from D.C. I also know that a constant back-and-forth struggle on the Hill could result in political gridlock that makes it impossible to get anything done.

But if our country is as evenly divided into red and blue as election maps show, then I think the representatives we send to D.C. should be evenly divided as well. They are supposed to represent us, after all.

Even within the HVAC industry, people have many differing opinions on what they’d like to see come out of D.C. Not long ago, I heard a prominent member of the HVAC community say that he was personally opposed to federal legislation that had been endorsed by all of the industry’s major associations.

If we’re not all on the same page, it makes sense that our representatives and senators aren’t all on the same page, either. A disagreement in D.C. that accurately reflects the varied interests of American citizens is a good place to start. It’s working through those differences of opinion and belief that ultimately provides the best laws and government for us.


So I won’t be complaining about the struggle in our nation’s capital, no matter how much it slows down the ability of our leaders to legislate and govern. It’s just fine with me if they take a long time to debate, hash out details, filibuster, revise, and debate again before they vote a new law into existence.

Because if you stop and think about it, that kind of inefficiency is what democracy is intended for. And honestly, if you look south to Venezuela, you can see the alternative, and it isn’t pretty. You want to know what kind of government is efficient? Dictatorship. Which proves that a highly efficient government isn’t necessarily better.

More and more reports are suggesting that Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, is rapidly becoming a dictator. He’s been accused of rigging elections and even got his legislative assembly to pass a law that enabled him to rule by decree for 18 months. Now he gets to make all the decisions without even needing the show of their input.

And what has he done? Oh, just the usual - taken over private industry and the banks, restricted the freedom of the press, all the typical things that seem to happen when one person with a big ego runs a country by himself.

When there’s only one guy who gets to make the decisions, a lot of decisions can be made and enforced quickly. When hundreds are allowed to have input - and those hundreds are listening to hundreds of thousands of others - decisions cannot be made as quickly. Instead, many varied viewpoints have to be heard and evaluated, and the final result is better because of it.

Dictatorships are a heckuva lot more efficient, but I’ll stick with our unwieldy, undependable, and unpredictable democratic process every time. It’s inefficient to be sure, but then, there’s no efficient way to allow all of us to have a voice in government. It’s through our representatives and their tug o’ war on the Hill that we get to have our say.

Publication date:01/24/2011