Danielle Brian runs the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a non-profit investigative group that has been unmasking waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government for decades, usually in the military budget.
I don't always agree with POGO's take on particular issues, but I've lauded their work for a long time. As much as I admire the U.S. military and marvel at its courage, technological accomplishments and faithfulness to traditional virtues like duty and honor, the fact remains that waste, fraud and abuse are found everywhere in government.
But Brian took a bit of time off from the investigative work to compose and post a long column earlier today that addresses an extraordinarily important question that deserves the most serious deliberation and thought by all of us: What if the "wrong" candidates win next Tuesday and come January 2013 control the White House and one or both chambers of Congress?
Time is running out for Washington to reform entitlements, balance the federal budget, simplify the tax code and restore a sustainable level of trust and credibility with the American people.
Getting there from here will require compromises by everybody. Getting to compromise requires give and take, concessions, and a willingness to forgo partisan advantage in the interest of preserving our republic.
Brian puts it like this:
"First is to embrace the fact that whoever is elected the next president, even if he isn't 'my guy,' is the person we are going to have to work with. After this election, about half the population is going to be disappointed in the results. How many on the 'losing side' will hope our newly elected president will fail? How many will spend the next four years looking for opportunities to prove it? Could these people be any less patriotic?-Yet this was a problem after both the Bush and Obama elections."
Frankly, this town is full of people across the ideological spectrum who read such words and wretch. For whatever reason - and there are many, none of which are justified - some folks are simply irreconcilable. But following that path will bring the country to ruin.
Compromise is the only viable alternative. If you doubt that, spend some time reading about the the years immediately before the Civil War, then read The Federalist Papers, especially numbers 10 and 51.
Or, as Brian puts it, "we have to 'eat our broccoli.' Stop being sore losers and resolve to work to make the next presidency as successful as possible. I understand how difficult a hurdle this is. People are more comfortable smugly pointing to mistakes, real or imagined, than helping to fix the problems."
She adds that "it is harder work to find common ground, identify acceptable compromises, and actually take action, than it is to complain about the 'other side' that is making things so difficult. Of course, it is the job of whoever is elected to include and engage the minority, but it is also incumbent on those whose candidate won to be gracious, and to reach out an olive branch."
That last point about the winners being gracious may be the key because such grace is the essential first step that puts the onus on others to reciprocate. In that regard, somebody ought to sit Harry Reid down next Wednesday morning and have a "Come-to-Compromise" talk. Brian's five steps to cure election dysfunction would be a perfect starting point for that discussion.
But Reid is far from unique in his narrow-minded, shrill take-no-prisoners partisanship. There just isn't much time left for the majority of movers and shakers - real and imagined - to rediscover the skills required to make compromise possible. The clock is ticking, friends.
Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.