Saturday, September 29, 2012

Touchdown or Interception?

By Congressman Randy Forbes 

The lockout is over.  The NFL referee lockout, that is.

Happy as fans are, it’s hard to get that image out of our minds:  two officials, standing yards apart, both thrusting their hands in the air - one signaling touchdown, one signaling touchback.

It wasn’t a good day.  Ref-bashing aside (enough of that has been done), the NFL referee lockout has left me thinking about this:  When it comes to judgment in most anything -  sports, business, government - there are differences of opinion and there are just plain bad calls.  Telling them apart is critical.

From where I sit, Congress has had a number of bad calls over the last several years, ones that will affect us for years to come.  A few that jump to mind: defense sequestration cuts that threaten national security as well as 200,000 Virginia jobs, $716 billion in cuts to Medicare under the new health care bill, an impotent stimulus spending with an initial price tag of $825 billion – not to mention an additional $347 billion (yes, billion) in interest alone.

These weren’t situational factors.  And, they weren’t purely partisan issues either.  But the bottom line is that they were decisions.  They were calls.  They were bad calls.  And when it was decision time, I voted no on each of them.

If there's anything reverberating in me from watching the NFL referee disaster over the last two weeks, it's that we’ve got to have the right people in positions to make the important calls.  We don’t necessarily have to agree with them on everything.  And when we differ in opinion, we ought to extend grace across the political aisle as much as possible and work to try to find common ground. 

After all, America is stronger when we don’t tear each other down, when we don’t rip each other to shreds over differences of opinion.  However, the people that make the calls have got to know the rules.  And they’ve got to understand the consequences of their calls.  Therein lies the difference between partisanship and practicality.