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My view: Of all problems, political obstruction is one Americans must solve

By Scott N. Howell

Published: Sunday, June 3 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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America has many problems – from budget deficits to garbage excesses.

We can solve those problems.

We will solve those problems.

The United States of America is the greatest problem-solving nation ever developed. Our political institutions were designed to seek out the best solutions from the vast marketplace of ideas. Our entrepreneurial business structure was designed to encourage and reward those with new ideas and new solutions.

Our social structure was designed to make certain every individual has equal opportunity to be heard and to share problem-solving ideas. Our public education system – unique in all the world – was designed to bring the benefits of education to every youngster so he or she has opportunities to develop personal talents and problem-solving abilities.

Every American knows that this nation has an unmatched record of solving national, state, local and even personal problems. It began with the Revolutionary War, when we solved the problem of sovereignty. No one thought we could win that war. But we did. We needed a Constitution. Solving that problem was not easy, but we did it. We found solutions to economic crises, wars, disease epidemics, transportation challenges.

We somehow resolved the embarrassing problem of segregation. We sent a whole generation of returning military veterans to college in order to jump start a postwar economy. We created more new technologies, new industries and new works of art than any nation in history. We developed the world's most generous society to help resolve social and personal problems.

We are a problem-solving people.

But we can't solve today's problems by depending for solutions on the same individuals who helped create the problems. There is no shortage of good problem-solving ideas. We can't solve problems so long as political leaders are unwilling to listen, to discuss and to consider ideas from all sources.

We can't solve today's problems if political leaders insist on standing on opposite sides of the room and simply yelling at one another. We must meet in the middle of the room if we hope to find solutions. Today, moderates are too often not welcome – in either political party. Moderation is a vital factor in solving our problems, as it is in most human endeavor. There's a time to be stubborn … and a time to be intelligent. We have plenty of intelligence in our population. We need more of it in all three branches of government — Congress, administration and the courts.

We can't solve today's problems if we focus only on our own interests, if we pay attention only to those information sources that reinforce our own prejudices. We must pay more attention to the interests of others and, most importantly, to the interests of the nation.

America is, indeed, a problem-solving nation. Unfortunately, too many of today's political leaders are content to make problems even worse if, by doing so, they can gain political advantage. That is not the American way.

The American people know how to solve problems. Problem-solving is what we do every day in our families, in our businesses, in our churches and in our social institutions.

We have every right to insist that those who stand in the way of solving America's problems move aside so more rational, moderate and solution-oriented leaders can take their places. Americans solve problems. Political obstruction is a problem we can solve.

Scott Howell is a Utah candidate for the United States Senate in the 2012 election.

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