Dharma and the "Fiscal Cliff"
The news out of Washington, D.C. indicates no real progress has been made toward striking a deal that would avoid the mix of sequestration and expiring tax cuts that’s been termed the “fiscal cliff.” Observing the partisan bickering, I can’t help but consider what a Hindu perspective might be on the whole situation. The principle of dharma, commonly translated as “duty” in English, though it has a deeper meaning in Sanskrit, seems to be the most applicable here.
It would seem to me that the dharma of an elected official, no matter their political persuasion, prioritizes legislation and governance that benefits as much of the populace as possible. Now, this principle doesn’t give us a specific solution that needs to be implemented in response to the fiscal cliff. However, it does say that any legislator that’s only looking out for specific interest groups or to achieve a partisan victory at the expense of governance is not acting in accordance with the duties they have as an elected official.
Using the perspective of dharma, I would expect elected officials to strategize and negotiate appropriately as they work to protect and advance what they consider important policy priorities. Failing to consider the broad health of the nation, including the economy, as their foremost priority, is a failure to fulfill their dharma and uphold their oath to the Constitution. If nothing else, the message voters delivered on November 6th is that they want lawmakers to do their duties, as opposed to political posturing. Lawmakers would be wise to follow that advice.