I was drafted in 1959, and when I found myself in basic training at Fort Hood, Texas, I was amazed at the diversity in our platoon. The draft didn’t play favorites. We had all kinds of people in our platoon. We had black guys, Hispanics, an American Indian, WASPs, Jewish guys and some tough guys of Italian heritage.
There were guys from all kinds of backgrounds, including one—who, told by a judge to choose between prison or the Army, had chosen the Army. Facing the center of the barracks, to the left of my bunk, was a delightful, innocent young black guy straight out of the Mississippi cotton fields. I don’t think he had ever been off the farm. To my right, was a Harvard graduate. There were steelworkers from Steubenville Ohio and an effeminate guy who repaired pipe organs! Here’s the amazing part: with minor exceptions, we all got along and very quickly became a unit, which is to say, we work together in harmony. What brought us together? Well, we had a common problem: The United States Army, which did not want to treat us with tenderness and respect! They wanted us to do some extremely unpleasant things, but they were democratic about it. All of us had to do them. This brought us together... welded us into a unit. There is no greater catalyst for unity than a common problem.
Very quickly I came to like, respect and even admire most of the guys in my platoon. The Army showed me the value of the wonderful diversity we have in our unique, melting-pot country. If we pull together, nothing can stop us!
Now, however, we find our country badly divided with (as usual) the extremists making the most noise and getting the most attention from the media. Most of us, however, are moderate—either just left of center or just right of center—and most of us are fairly decent people who would prefer unity to the divisive culture of contempt in which we find ourselves. We can come together. All we need is a common problem, and guess what, we have one: the United States Congress. We find ourselves governed by a Congress of professional politicians, many of whom are mainly committed to protecting and furthering their own careers. Over 50 percent of the people in Congress are millionaires Only five percent of ordinary citizens are millionaires. Are people in Congress 10 times smarter than us?
What’s even worse, is the fact that Congress is not doing its job. In mutual dislike, the two parties have created a Congressional Culture of Contempt. With a few exceptions, this culture of contempt has precluded cooperation and compromise and prevented Congress from solving our most pressing national problems. This is a massive failure. Congress is not serving the people.
Congress is our common problem. Let’s come together and—using the Term Limit Pledge and the WORK Pledge—start to solve it! WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE THE BOSS!