Valentine’s Day has gone but the hearts that beat stronger still echo across America. Or not. Amidst the turmoil and bickering on Capitol Hill and the critical state of our economy, it’s difficult to hear anything echo at all. Should I be happy that money will be dedicated to bolster artists and the arts in America? Yes. But I’d be much happier if the decision had been made at a table where both Democrats and Republicans had their say. To shout dissent after a decision seldom changes the outcome. Debate from all sides of the table during the decision making process acknowledges culpability and shared responsibility. We all played a role in this mess. We all must work together to solve it. When we voted for change in America, that didn’t signal an embrace of a single vision by Democrats, it called for a shift in the policies that brought us to the edge of democratic extinction. I voted for Obama in part because of my belief that he weighs the opinions and insights from a variety of perspectives by groups and individuals who should have, through education, training and experience, expertise in the areas of concern not just concern for the areas in debate. And that requires listening. Listening sometimes to people whose initial ideas and opinions oppose your own. It is not important to me which side of the divided aisle brings the right idea to the table as long as it’s the best idea. Granted, there is often more than one solution to the same problem and unfortunately no clear solution to an astronomical crisis, but that being said, expediency should not come at the price of exclusion. On the other hand, those who choose to exclude themselves from the process in hopes of gaining political capital if that process fails to accomplish the intended outcome win nothing but another hot seat in the house. The problems we face are now. The decisions to address those problems are now. To hope for the worse to save your own seat is the worst position any politician can possibly assume. I prefer less fodder for satire in the arts and a decisive, collective, intelligent drive towards a healthy America at heart.