This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 2, 2011 - Recently, drama critic Hilton Als wrote about Chekhov in The New Yorker. Als noted Chekhov's "subtle understanding of how unlikely people are to truly change, even when history dictates that they must."
Chekhov wrote of individuals and families but his understanding can also apply to institutions, elected officials and governments. Bureaucracies are loathe to shift their operating paradigms. The debate in Washington over the budget and the debt limit shows us two political parties, each wed to an ideology. Republicans refuse to consider tax increases; Democrats protect entitlements and social programs.