Well, this Monday was last call for our government, which means the entire nation is now sitting down for one politically infused Thanksgiving dinner. In case you just arrived, here’s a synopsis. Congress couldn’t plan how to budget the government’s spending this year without resolving disagreement over Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act. Congress failed to make the deadline, and now hundreds of thousands of government employees will be furloughed.

The rhetorical fallout of this issue has been rather predictable, mainly because people continue to shout the same things they were saying before the government shutdown. Democrats blame Republicans, Republicans blame Democrats, people blame Democrats and/or Republicans, and no one seems to be happy (just let me know when this “Thanksgiving” metaphor no longer applies). In a nutshell, politicians on Capitol Hill are acting crazy.

Here’s the deal: many people are so pissed about how crazy our elected officials have become that they can’t see how crazy they themselves get when these issues arise. Now let me be clear: I’m not grouping everyone under the same umbrella of blame. There are many hardworking, true red, white, and blue Americans who are feeling the effects of this shutdown. If anyone has authorization to go a little crazy, it’s these people.

What I am saying, however, is that the vast majority of comments I’ve seen through the media, social networks, and simple face-to-face communication have been hard to distinguish from the rhetoric we’ve recently witnessed on Capitol Hill. People continue to blame each other; which is fine if we’re trying to figure out how not to repeat this issue in the future (good luck). Instead, however, most people have settled on an “I told you so” mentality, regardless of anything resembling factual, rational thought.

Some of the comments have been so absurd, I’ve questioned whether my own ontological being is trapped in some sort of South Park-like virtual reality (that’s nerd speak for “The Matrix: South Park”). “Keep the government closed”, “Lets become communist”, “Overthrow the government”; I don’t believe that even half of these statements have any honesty behind them, but the point remains. Am I not a bit hypocritical if I’m denouncing Sen. Ted Cruz’s references to Dr. Seuss, while pretending to endorse a solution that would make Emperor Palpatine gitty?

The bottom line is simple and cliche: everyone needs to take a step back and focus on the reality of the situation. 800,000 federal employees alone are now affected by this shutdown. We can’t ignore this fact, nor can we treat this as a mere statistic to vomit out in our over-sensitized rhetoric. 800,000 men and women, many with families, are now suffering because our rhetoric (not just Capitol Hill’s) has become diluted with the usual political BS we bitch about – yet accept – all under the same breath.

20th century rhetorician, Chaim Perelman, argued that any and all points of disagreement must start from points of agreement. I often find it funny that academics who dedicated their entire lives to argumentation and debate frequently push for agreement more than our own “bipartisan embracing” political pundits. So maybe, our first step out of this mess is to focus more on our agreements, rather than our disagreements?

What’s the worst that could happen?