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The American way is to rally together in a crisis. Differences in race, color, or religion lose their power and meaning when we are called upon to join a common and noble cause. Coping with the closing of Highway Forty is a wonderful case in point. Only two DWI’s insisted on driving the closed section on January second. To do so they had to miss a whole lot of warning signs and barricades. The rest of us made alternative plans for the next two years. While morning drivers have adopted a scatter schedule, the afternoon rush is much more condensed into a short period of time. Why do they call it rush hour when no one is moving?
With the Missouri presidential primary rapidly approaching, my guess is that many of the democratic and republican hopefuls will be coming to St. Louis. This means that in the next two weeks, political motorcades will be wending their way down Clayton and Ladue roads, or bumper to bumper on 170. I hope the candidate’s local drivers will use the motorcade time to tell them a cautionary tale for our country.
The script would go something like this:
Senator, Governor, whatever: This transportation mess is a direct result of political procrastination. Candidates since the 1960’s have promised to keep taxes and government expenditures low. Every such promise that was actually kept, led to infrastructure upgrades that never happened, critical maintenance that was postponed. This journey you are taking is a portent of things to come, if you and your colleagues continue to ignore crumbling bridges and unsafe roadways, for the sake of a few votes.
The first one of you that has a real plan for repairing and upgrading America will get my vote. I know it is going to cost hard earned dollars and will take sacrifice, but what the heck, this Highway 40 thing has made me tough. I can take it.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Mark Shook is Rabbi Emeritus at Temple Israel.