If We’re Not Fixing It, Maybe It’s Not Broken

Everywhere I turn a politician is promising to bring change to Washington. Apparently the system is broken—very, very broken. But I think we should kick the anthill of conventional thinking on that paradigm.This anthill has been manufactured and forged across the country as a wave of public pessimism about the direction of our country and our hopes for the future has been above the fold for a few years now. Certainly the Presidential candidates, group-think weather vanes that they are, believe there’s a problem. Barack Obama says, “…the problem is the system in Washington isn’t working for us, and it hasn’t for a very long time.” And John Edwards told U.S. News and World Report, “Washington is severely broken. And I think the system is rigged, and I think it is rigged against the American people and it’s rigged by powerful interests and their lobbyists in Washington.” And not a week goes by that Hillary Clinton doesn’t tout herself as an agent of change in Washington. Even the Republicans agree. Mitt Romney has been running a TV ad saying, “It’s time for change.”What is going on that so many people feel the system is broken? The answer is that people are frustrated that very little legislation is being passed by our federal government to address the major issues of the day–health care, a mortgage crisis, immigration, the war in Iraq. But does a lack of legislation indicate a broken system? The mandate to Washington is not to create legislation but to legislate consistent with the will of the people. In which case, the system in Washington is working perfectly. We have a divided Congress because we have a divided nation. The stalemates in Washington, which are occurring because of partisan politics, directly reflect the national composition. We have elected a narrow Democrat majority. It will be difficult for the Democrats to push through legislation because the Republicans equally oppose them.As an authentic conservative, I don’t want changes pouring out of Washington like water over the falls. Change, while necessary, inevitable and stimulating, should occur thoughtfully and without haste. The national mood that nothing is happening in Washington is inaccurate. Nothing is happening quickly, that is true. But our mood reflects America’s ongoing transformation into an instant gratification society. We want what we want and we want it now. We don’t like waiting.“Because the two parties are so evenly balanced,” says conservative strategist Grover Norquist, “it’s not possible for one party to pass its own agenda.” Is that a bad thing? Particularly at the national level, legislation ought to be well reasoned and cautious. It does, by nature, tend towards “one size fits all” which seldom works. Before Congress chooses to treat us all the same by creating national legislation, I think it is good and proper that two balanced parties hash out the needs of the constituents and come to a compromise that bears the marks of public opinion.The media continues to relay to us how desperate we are for change. Yet, we see through those who say they are change agents but are not—Senator Clinton, Governor Romney, we’re not buying it. But our behavior would indicate we don’t want as much change as we say we do. If we really wanted change GOP candidate John Cox would be getting significantly more attention. Here is a genuine outsider. But he can barely get a whiff of the media’s attention. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich might represent change but they’re change to the extremes that don’t accurately reflect the national sentiment and they are still Washington insiders.The larger the governmental body the less I trust it. I expect little from Washington but I want little from Washington. Government operating closer to home is always more effective and responsive. In the absence of vibrant leadership out of Washington, the Republican Governor’s Association, currently chaired by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, has been more active in trying to create legislation that works. State governments can be and should be policy laboratories for the federal government to observe, contends the RGA.Additionally, California’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has become a popular and effective governor in a state with a majority of Democrats in the state legislature because he has chosen compromise over conflict. Compromise may seem like a dirty word to many but it is the engine of efficacy in government. When we are talking about state governments, as well, it would serve us to remember that a Republican in Texas probably has more in common with a Democrat in Texas than a Republican in New Hampshire. Thus, those legislative compromises at the state level are seldom as hard to swallow as one might think.We must always remember that if we want change, it starts with us. Who we elect is our most important method of communication with Congress. We can’t keep electing cheap station wagons and then expect them to act like Ferrari’s.The only way to speed up the rate of legislation out of Washington would be a viable third party, beholden to neither of the two existing parties. It wouldn’t even take a significant number; 10%-15% in both houses who were independent would be sufficient to force through legislation at an alarming rate. However, we don’t want that. And perhaps the fact that we don’t have a viable third party is ample evidence of that fact.The system isn’t broken at all. In fact, the perception that a problem exists at all may be because the system is working TOO well. At the very least, it’s working just as it was designed to and we should be thankful for that. Democrats should be thankful that in President Bush’s first term he and the Republican Congress didn’t pass a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage; and Republicans should be thankful that this Congress with its Democrat majority didn’t force US troops home immediately.If your complaint is governmental inaction, I ask you, “What action have you taken to change your government?” The fastest way to create change is to be a vocal participant in your local government. In the meantime, be glad that once again, the American system of government, as created over 200 years ago by our Founding Fathers, is up to any challenge we throw at it, including our own misperceptions.

Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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