To the editor:

John Katz, Alaska’s lobbyist for over 30 years, announced his retirement last night and gave as one of his reasons the quagmire that Washington has become. If it is too disheartening for Mr. Katz, we are in deep trouble.

This week, Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown for the second time this year. After the debt ceiling debacle and resulting downgrade of the country’s credit rating, it’s hard to imagine that our elected officials would again lead us so close to the precipice. Alas, that’s precisely what they did. Even worse, it was a predictable outcome for a government that responds to crisis but seems incapable of doing much else these days.

 As I wonder how many more times the American people will be forced to witness this embarrassing episode, it’s becoming clear that Washington is paralyzed by politics.

Today, partisan posturing stands in the way of the people’s business like never before. While we eagerly await solutions on the economy, energy, immigration and a host of other pressing issues, politicians offer little more than platitudes and ideological rhetoric.

It’s as if neither side is willing to let the other side score a victory — so we all lose, time and time again. It’s sad commentary that what divides us has become more important than the principles that make us all the same; but that’s the reality we are facing, and the sooner we confront it, the better.

If there is a glimmer of hope for a return to the civil political discourse that gets things done, it resides with the so-called Super Committee charged with identifying solutions to our massive fiscal woes before the end of the year. This group represents the last chance our elected leaders have to prove that they can rise above the fray and do what’s right for the American people. To show that the spirit of compromise that built this nation hasn’t evaporated entirely.

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