I’m a child psychiatrist. To a large extent, my currency is play. In fact, through play, through poems and make-believe and a little bit of satire, kids can realize things with greater and more sophisticated alacrity than can many adults.
So, as my children and I watched the issues in Congress unfold this week, it occurred to us that we were watching children.
Perhaps if we communicate our views in terms that children can better understand, we can make the current quagmire in Washington inch a bit forward. After all, from a developmental perspective, this is without question a developmentally regressed time in politics. In fact, I’d place the current predicament in Washington at somewhere between ages four and seven. That’s the level of reasoning that is currently taking place among some members of governance for one of the most powerful nations on Earth.
So, my family and I went back and watched the School House Rock segment from the 70’s about how a bill becomes a law. That program really stymied us. Either the good people who wrote School House Rock were wrong, or the good people in Washington are wrong.
Bottom line? They both can’t be right. Even my youngest daughter understood that.
So—think of my tongue deeply in my cheek as you read the verses below. People who act like children must be treated like children. Imagine a children’s book not that different from the same Green Eggs and Ham that Mr. Cruz read during his faux-filibuster that can make things clearer on Capitol Hill. Of course, the irony of Mr. Cruz's choice is that his particular reading selection is all about teaching children that they need to try something first before they summarily reject it. But that might be a bit too obvious...
John (the Speaker), whoes last name is Boehner
Once thought (poor chap) that it couldn’t be plainer
A bill is a bill
Until it’s a law
But then some new players
Did pay him a call
They explained, in loud tones, that we’ve made a mistake
Because, it turns out - some laws are fake!
What happens up there, in our Hallowed House Chambers?
If you don’t like the conclusion
You just stop being neighbors
There are no rules, it seems, for a working solution
If the rules themselves are the source of pollution
So forget that nice Bill, from School House Rock
Apparently that lesson was simply a Crock
The House can say “yes”
The Senate affirms
And then The President signs it
AND THOSE ARE THE TERMS
But, alas, it seems likely
That some managed election
So why write about something so serious this way?
Why write a dumb poem?
Why not just say:
The Law is The Law
You don’t get to quibble
If you can’t play by the rules
Then you don’t get to nibble
At the way that our system is designed to thus rule
We vote, and we win, or we lose
And that’s cool
I’m truly perplexed at these difficult junctions
About how to explain how our government functions
We’ve watched School House Rock
Dang, we had it all figured
But School House Rock is now reconfigured
Yeah, you’re just a bill, up on Capitol Hill
And although you might find your way
To becoming a law
There are folks who guffaw:
“That process means nothing today”