“Good government is easy.” Often, when I say that, eyebrows are raised and the response is skeptical.
After all, if it was easy, why is good government in such short supply? Certainly, there isn’t much about the Federal Government that looks easy. It’s a mess, and the screw-ups are endless.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, after too many years of unchecked growth, too many partisan games and policies that don’t make sense, the notion of good government in Washington, DC, may seem far-fetched. But what’s been done can be undone. It just takes the will to do so.
Sadly, the missing ingredient today in Washington is common sense. Policies can and should be debated. While politics should certainly be secondary to doing the right thing, our system is inherently “political”. That can’t be eliminated entirely. That doesn’t mean, though, that the politicians have to check their brains at the door.
Right now, churches in southern New Mexico are dealing with the daunting challenge of housing and “reuniting” immigrant and refugee parents with their children. They are having to do that — and thank goodness they ARE doing it — because our President and his appointees in Washington, DC, decided to prove their toughness on immigration with a zero-tolerance policy that ended up with children being taken from their parents at the border and shipped off to locations all over the country.
From all indications, they did that without even having a real plan for getting those kids back to their families at some point. They just woke up one morning, issued some orders to the poor bureaucrats who have to actually carry out their policies, and apparently didn’t even stop to think of the real world consequences. And those consequences are unacceptable by any measure of decency — regardless of one’s view of immigration, legal or illegal.
We all saw the images. Little kids crying. Mothers terrified. “Detention Centers” with children behind chain link fences. And our own government did that!
Where was the common sense?? Who picked up the phone and consulted people in places like…New Mexico, where we actually understand immigration, border control and the realities of years-long backlogs in the courts that decide the fates of refugees, undocumented immigrants and their families?
This isn’t about immigration policy. That’s a different conversation that we obviously need to finally have. It’s about basic competence, common sense and remembering that government is actually supposed to do good things.
Good government CAN be easy. As Governor, I learned quickly that simply asking the right questions, putting the politics on the back burner and understanding that actions have consequences for people’s lives can go a very long way.
By just applying the common sense the rest of us employ every day in our lives and businesses, the politicians could have avoided creating an inhumane mess that New Mexico churches and a lot of other folks are today having to clean up.