Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Can we get the politics out of governing?

  1. #1
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    96

    Default Can we get the politics out of governing?

    As I listened to yet another absurd prescription for "solving" the Iraq War, wedged between radio programs on our pathetic medical care system and some election prognositications on how the flex of executive privilege muscle will play, it all distilled down to the subject line for me.

    Can we get the politics out of governing?

    Is it possible?

    I'm sure there's a body of thought and debate out there. I'm not tapped into it. Comments anywhere from comparative foreign and historical government lessons, to "that's stupid" by definition.

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    204

    Default

    Questions originally posed by Ironhorse:
    "Can we get the politics out of governing?

    Is it possible?"

    "Yes, but..." as an answer. It will literally take such an exceptional crisis (one where it was largely obvious to all that the continued existence of the United States was directly at stake), where everyone would be focused enough.

    I would say the last extended crisis where the politics were largely relegated to the background was of course the Second World War, but a second place finish could probably be the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    We forget that even during virtually all of the Revolutionary War, that George Washington was having to fight numerous political battles, and oftentimes those political fights were far more difficult than fighting the British.

    To me, to fully respond to the question, one has to define what you consider "politics" to be. For myself, I define "politics = influence". As a result, my outlook on the question is "Can we get the influence out of governing?", which is really a much clearer question.

    Answer: Probably not, due to what I see as four primary (recent) developments (although there is some hope).

    01 New media vrs. MSM. MSM has always held sway, and honestly, they were into groupthink. Not the way it is any more, with blogs, Web 2.0, Wikis, talk radio, but also Internet radio. Old media is losing ground, and by substantial chunks. Communications is a wide open game these days. But it's also turned into a full scale ideological battleground, and I don't mean R v. D, or liberal v. conservative. It's a much bigger fight than just those limited outlooks, and everybody's out (on both sides) for every bit of influence they can get, and that process is coloring the entire spectrum. And these media/influence wars spill over into everything else.

    02 Global Economy. We're still the big kids on the block in the global economy, and contrary to the pessimists, we'll be there for a long time to come. But global trade used to be structured like a flowchart, now it's a multitude of spider webs. And it doesn't all come through a single location. And you always have leaders who want to change, adjust, and/or influence that global economic situation (there's that word again).

    As an example, witness Al Gore (Global Warming) v. Bush WH v. John Dingell (D-Big 3 Auto Makers) v. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). There's some unusual alliances there.....

    03 Location, Location, Location. I truly believe this is a vastly underrated, and oftentimes unrecognized issue. As an example, for NYC, LA, & Chicago, "business" in these places is "business". But in Washington, DC, "business" = "politics" (Influence). Been that way forever. That's the way it's always been, so expecting the environment in Washington, DC to change is not really very likely.

    What would happen if we relocated our federal government base to one (or even several) municipality locations where there has always been an extremely strong business environment? I tend to think the "business" would win out over the "politics".

    04 Technology. Technology in the 1970's through the 1990's created greater standing for Washington, DC. as the leading political capital. But what technology creates, it can also take away. There is fast becoming no reason to have to have a "one location fits all" as in Washington, DC. Witness the government growth into the Maryland/Virginia areas outside of Washington, DC. It could easily expand to locations like South Carolina (witness Google's latest data centers), Georgia, Texas, Indiana, or other locations. If the federal government can expand there, why not relocate there? Technology could easily make it happen, and even force it to happen.

    Just a few thoughts.

  3. #3
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    I have a difficult time understanding those who want to exclude politics from governance.

    In a democratic system, politics is how we resolve our differences and come to solutions. It doesn't look particularly good in action, it is often shot through with venality and corruption, and sometimes results are suboptimal, but as a system goes I'd pick ours over most others.

    Those lusting for a Singapore-style technocracy where business-oriented mandarins decide the common good for everyone else should frankly pack up and try it out. I've seen it in action and I'll take downtown Brooklyn over Harbour Front any day of the week.
    Last edited by tequila; 07-10-2007 at 08:14 AM.

  4. #4
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Wonderland
    Posts
    1,284

    Default

    Life IS politics. It's kind of like saying, "Why can't we just have a nice, beautiful forest, without all these damned trees in the way?"

    A better question might be: "Why can't we not insert wishful thinking into theories?"

  5. #5
    Council Member Nat Wilcox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    106

    Default Polarization by structure

    Some students of American national politics suspect that the Voting Rights Act had a major unintended consequence. The argument goes that the VRA vastly increased the scope for gerrymandering of congressional districts...the drafters of the Act, plus later judicial interpretation, were not able to limit the use of this scope to the originally intended purpose of the Act (increasing minority representation). And it has become one of those third rails of American politics, as you all may remember...it came up recently for regular review, and a few people wanted to tinker with it, but were nearly electrocuted by the political and media reaction to tinkering with that sacred cow.

    The story goes that the VRA has had the unintended consequence of polarizing the representation of the American electorate because parties (by creating "safe party districts") move median voters within the resulting districts further from the center. In this story, this hollows out the representation of the political center, and causes the "tails" or "fringes" of political opinion to receive undue weight.

    I find the story compelling as a theoretical matter, but I'm not immersed in the empirical research on the subject. My point in relating the story is that sometimes strictly optional structural features of democratic institutions can be pretty pernicious (at least in theory). In the case of the VRA, one could imagine tinkering with it to eliminate its (alleged) pernicious unintended consequences. One of the states (I think Iowa) has "tied its own hands" by relegating redistricting to an impartial commission. Bravo to them; but it takes an awful lot of public-spiritedness for either party in power in some statehouse to resist the tempation to "do unto the other party as they did unto them."

  6. #6
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    204

    Default

    Originally posted by 120 MM:
    A better question might be: "Why can't we not insert wishful thinking into theories?"
    Reminds me of a process flowchart I have seen, where the final Activity process on the chart was:

    "And Then A Miracle Occurs..."

  7. #7
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher In The Middle View Post
    Originally posted by 120 MM:


    Reminds me of a process flowchart I have seen, where the final Activity process on the chart was:

    "And Then A Miracle Occurs..."

    I believe that had something to do with the Red Sea....

  8. #8
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bristol, Tennessee
    Posts
    146

    Default Truly, we get the government we deserve.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironhorse View Post
    Can we get the politics out of governing?

    Is it possible?

    I'm sure there's a body of thought and debate out there. I'm not tapped into it. Comments anywhere from comparative foreign and historical government lessons, to "that's stupid" by definition.
    As long as people are free to exercise their 1st Amendment rights to criticize the government, I don't see how. There always has, and always will be conflict between and among the branches of our government. And if anything, it used to be alot more personal than it is now.

    One of the things that precipitated the Burr-Hamilton duel was Burr's belief that Hamilton's faction was slandering him with a whisper campaign that he had committed incest with his own daughter. There were other things, too, but it doesn't get any dirtier than that.

    Lincoln and Davis both faced relentless criticism during the Civil War.

    WWII is pretty unique in the kind of unity the country displayed during wartime. If that is the standard for the cooperation we expect in Washington, we will likely be disappointed for ever after.

    Frankly, I don't want to give up my right to criticize the government, its policies, and various politicians. Do you? If not, then you have to allow for Senator X to criticize Senator Y, President Z to critize the both of them, and Representatives A and B to dodge the issue altogether. We the people have elected them, they didn't come from outer space. People basically get the government they deserve, in my opinion. Our current crop is merely a reflection of the society they come from.
    No signature required, my handshake is good enough.

  9. #9
    Registered User Hownowcow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Pentagon Row, Arlington, VA.
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Watcher In The Middle View Post
    Originally posted by 120 MM:


    Reminds me of a process flowchart I have seen, where the final Activity process on the chart was:

    "And Then A Miracle Occurs..."
    Actually, I think that it was a Larson cartoon. A student scribbled an endless equation on the blackboard, punctuated by "then a miracle occurred," followed by the solution. The caption contained the acidic observation of the professor.
    David H. "Cow" Gurney
    Colonel, USMC (Ret.)
    Senior Fellow, National Defense University
    Editor, Joint Force Quarterly

  10. #10
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Wherever my stuff is
    Posts
    823

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hownowcow View Post
    Actually, I think that it was a Larson cartoon. A student scribbled an endless equation on the blackboard, punctuated by "then a miracle occurred," followed by the solution. The caption contained the acidic observation of the professor.
    Behold, the power of my Google skills.

    Sydney Harris:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Example is better than precept.

  11. #11
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hownowcow View Post
    Actually, I think that it was a Larson cartoon. A student scribbled an endless equation on the blackboard, punctuated by "then a miracle occurred," followed by the solution. The caption contained the acidic observation of the professor.
    Welcome Colonel!

    Tom

  12. #12
    Council Member Ironhorse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DC
    Posts
    96

    Default Looking for a miracle?

    Or maybe a touch of ju jitsu?

    As expected, trending toward goofy by definition -- variations on governing = power, and politics = the distribution of power, therefore NO.

    Clearly I am not talking about theoretical abstract politics, but rather the ugly manifestation of it. I just can't help but think this bipartisan bickering, money politics, and short short term mentality wasn't intended by the founding fathers. Many great checks and balances, but not against that, unless you're using the accountant's definitions.

    Unfortunately, I am not a graduate of the madrasah of the Federalist Papers, or converstant in the many rules and regs behind the Constitution's implementation. I just see the core ideas taking a long view, that their manifestation in practice can never achieve.

    Yes, I am tilting at windmills. Another cartoon that comes to mind is the Far Side one with the dog scientists striving to master the operation of the door knob, knowing what an impact it would have to the species.

  13. #13
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    489

    Default

    FDR even faced criticism in WWII and right before the war as well. His domestic policies were not working well up to the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

    Thomas Fleming's "The New Dealers War" is probably the best account I've read on opposition to FDR in this time period.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

  14. #14
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Wonderland
    Posts
    1,284

    Default

    I've seen some accounts that are reminiscient of today, especially FDR's extremely questionable Naval campaign against the Germans prior to December 7th.

    Seems there was also some rumbling against declaring war on Germany, because the "real enemy" was Japan, and not just by German-American Bund spokespersons, either.

    I think you could draw a loose parallel between declaring war on Germany then and invading Iraq today, at least in terms of justification. Not that I'd agree with it....

  15. #15
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bristol, Tennessee
    Posts
    146

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    Thomas Fleming's "The New Dealers War" is probably the best account I've read on opposition to FDR in this time period.
    Speaking of Thomas Fleming, he also wrote a scathing book on Woodrow Wilson's administration in World War I called "The Illusion of Victory." I've seen him occasionally on BookTV on C-Span talking about the Revolutionary War times, but not yet on The New Deal or WWI book.

    I started the WWI book a while back but only got a little ways into it before I got sidetracked. I'll pick it back up when I have more free time. I don't know that Mr. Fleming has written anything about Iraq yet, or not. The parallels with Iraq are so obvious (fighting in the name of planting democracy in foreign lands) that he might not be able to restrain himself. He REALLY dislikes Woodrow Wilson and his administration, that comes through loud and clear.

    That title, "The Illusion of Victory" pretty much tells you where he's going with his examination of our role in WWI. An inability to consolidate tactical military success on the battlefield into a postwar political victory is not exactly a new thing in American history, Mr. Fleming would likely say.
    No signature required, my handshake is good enough.

  16. #16
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    489

    Default

    Tactitus

    That's another great book. Really shoves the bat up Wilson's 4th point of contact and then breaks it off sideways. Between the false political promises to keep us out of war, the abolition of civil liberties at home, and Wilson's belief that a supre-national government was possible after WWI, Fleming just crushes Wilson.

    And rightly so. Wilson was the worst President since Buchanan.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

  17. #17
    Council Member Dominique R. Poirier's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    137

    Default Synarchism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironhorse View Post
    As I listened to yet another absurd prescription for "solving" the Iraq War, wedged between radio programs on our pathetic medical care system and some election prognositications on how the flex of executive privilege muscle will play, it all distilled down to the subject line for me.

    Can we get the politics out of governing?

    Is it possible?

    I'm sure there's a body of thought and debate out there. I'm not tapped into it. Comments anywhere from comparative foreign and historical government lessons, to "that's stupid" by definition.
    Ironhorse,
    it is relatively easy to get politics out of governing and it is not novelty. Now, whom or which kind of leaders are you suggesting instead?

    Well, when this happens it usually takes the form of synarchism and the official ruling class gets made up of stupid and unqualified persons who spend their time making purposeless speeches on the TV. People get disenchanted and distrustful toward those who are officially in power and about politics and elections in general. An headless authoritarian regime takes place and everywhere in officialdom, as in private business, no one seems to be truly in command; for, no one truly looks for responsibilities but for positions that offer the best pay check, perks and special privileges…

    Historically, Claude Henry de Saint Simon, the father of a political doctrine first called “Saint simonism” before it was definitively called “Socialism,” was the first to suggest this way of governing.
    He said that the future modern world ought to be governed by a secret council of 27 “wise men” picked up in the pool of the best scientists on earth.

    Hmmm, not that attractive, in my own opinion.

    Have you ever read 1984, by George Orwell, coincidentally?

    Here is a definition of synarchism:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synarchy

    Here you can know more about Saint Simon:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_...de_Saint-Simon

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •