The politics of Washington is great theater, but the script being played out is a tragedy. It’s a story of egos, money, power, and pride. And while the actors on the stage of Washington consider their importance, across the great land of these United States are the stories of people who don’t have the luxury of enjoying politics as a blood sport for spectators. They are the ones whose lives are impacted away from the cameras and lights. They are the ones who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the policies of the politicians, but who are often crushed by them. I often say that the practitioners of politics see things horizontally---left/right; liberal/conservative; Democrat/Republican. But most Americans view life vertically---up/down; better/worse; they care far less about the horizontal leanings of their elected officials as they do about the vertical direction of their own lives. Their concerns are more pragmatic, like “will my child’s school provide a quality education? Will the trash get picked up on time? Will our streets be safe? Will the potholes get fixed? Far too much of the political ruling class is focused on advancing horizontal purity. That matters little to someone without a job, or someone who has a family member with Alzheimer’s, or someone who missed last month’s mortgage payment. If elected officials want to truly serve, let them first understand it’s not about them. I learned early in my political career as a rare Republican in a state dominated by 90% elected Democrats that people cared most that I governed according to what was best for them, not just the party. And I learned that good policy IS good politics. When the policies of the officials truly lift people up, the party they belong to gets carried along in the updraft. I long for a time when people from all over the horizontal spectrum will care more about the vertical spectrum. It would be refreshing if the criteria for determining a good public servant is not how conservative or liberal he or she might pretend to be, but rather how effective he or she is in solving problems and serving the people who aren’t even big money contributors, but who are getting kicked in the teeth by the hardships of life and don’t need government putting a boot in their backside. I don’t think it’s the job of government to be our collective nanny, but neither should it be a bully. People shouldn’t go to Washington for a career; they ought to go as a brief respite to serve. Term limits would ensure that they governed for a while and then went home to see how those laws they passed actually worked. There should be no Congressional perks or pensions other than Social Security and an option to contribute to a 401-K plan. A person holding office wouldn’t be allowed to seek another office other than the one he or she holds unless one is willing to resign so as not to use the taxpayer’s money to campaign for another job. Require full disclosure of all political contributions—stop the cowardly anonymous giving that allows very wealthy donors to determine elections without being held accountable for their contributions. And any ad that mentions a candidate by name would be subject to libel and slander laws if proven to be misleading or false. That would be a game changer. But we don’t need to just change the game; we need to change the country. And we need to do it NOW.