Uncertainty does not give people the confidence needed to move forward and make decisions because it carries with it high levels of risk. As a result, growth, however you want to define it, halts because uncertainty keeps people locked in a strange type of limbo waiting for something to happen.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington know they are right and the other side is wrong. Both have shown in the past that they are not willing to compromise because they both have made promises to their parties. To give in, even a little, would make them look weak.
All of this creates high levels of national and international uncertainty. Add to that the fact that we are heading toward what has been called a ‘fiscal cliff’ and it’s easy to see why business owners and investors have a wait and see attitude and everyone is so stressed and anxious.
Two 50th anniversaries offer a powerful lesson for the United States government. The first is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. For those who are too young to remember, the world was never closer to the brink of nuclear war as we were 50 years ago. President Kennedy and his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev confronted each other “eyeball to eyeball,” each with the power of mutual destruction. A war would have meant the deaths of 100 million Americans and more than 100 million Russians. What kept the world from ending as we had known it? The willingness on both sides to compromise! Both men had a willingness to think and act beyond national pride and personal ego. As such, they found a way to give up a few things on both sides in order to move forward without destroying each other.
The rock and roll band The Rolling Stones is also celebrating their 50th anniversary with what we would all expect: a tour. At some point on every night of their tour, lead singer Mick Jagger will sing these words to the band’s classic song: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find… you get what you need.”
Wants and needs are two different things. What this nation needs is for both the Democrats and the Republicans to remember that they are both Americans. And America needs a functional government with leaders that can negotiate and compromise enough to create the certainty and vision we are all hungry for—one that lets us all move forward together as the UNITED States.