Friday, August 12, 2011

Is our political system broken?

Good column today from Charles Krauthammer shooting down the notion that the lack of comity in Washington proves the system is broken.

On NRO Yuval Levin adds some good commentary, with a useful pointer to its source:

The yearning for a cleaner, smoother process more amendable to technocratic control which is so central to the president’s rhetoric now (and a form of which was also at the heart of S&P’s defense of its downgrade of American credit last week) is a rejection of the American system of government dressed up as a defense of that system—a favorite gambit of progressives since at least Herbert Croly.”

This is what makes me apprehensive about businessmen going into politics.  They bring a mindset of efficiency and getting things done to an activity where it isn’t very appropriate.  Even while espousing conservative ideas they tend to be of a technocratic mind.

Levin goes on to note a frame of reference error in all this:

“In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama speaks of a “time before the fall, a golden age in Washington when, regardless of which party was in power, civility reigned and government worked.” He has in mind in particular the early and middle 1960s—a period he suggests was the high-water mark of the American regime.

But in fact, that period marked a temporary but very costly failure of the adversarial controls essential to the American system. That failure did not occur (as some others have) because of a terrible war or a grave economic calamity. It happened in the midst of peace and prosperity. It had its roots in an unusual postwar elite consensus on social policy and in the catastrophic failure of the Republican Party to offer a plausible alternative to that consensus in the 1964 election. The result was a brief but significant explosion of policymaking that yielded the hasty and careless creation of a massive artifice of entitlement and discretionary programs we have come to know as the Great Society.”

I would add that if I’m correct that we are seeing the crack-up of Progressivism then it should be expected that our politics appears rough and unwieldy.  The Ancien Regime isn’t going quietly, and the challengers are impatient. Where’s the surprise?

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