A Reasonable Solution To The Impending Political Impasse
The scenario: a deadlocked Congress more so than seen in our lifetimes. Continuing economic demise in the face of a myriad of possible unfortunate events (acts of nature, acts of terrorism, etc.), and a gleeful Asia that is ascending while we are descending. Against this unfolding picture may I again suggest a possibility out of this mess and one that might actually work.
As prologue may I use the analogy of the closing of military bases. This has perennially been a no-winner as the representatives of impacted regions cry loud enough and are passionate enough to disrupt any required action. No elected official of any such affected state can possibly view the larger interest of the nation against the needs of his/her constituency. The solution: Congress very cleverly came up with the method of protecting these politicians while at the same time achieving the necessary closing of redundant bases by agreeing to have an impartial commission, mandated to make a recommendation as to specific base closings; and here is the genius of this scheme, Congress would in return agree to NOT debate this recommendation but only to vote on it – up or down.
I argue that this same process can be used on a myriad of national governing issues that have festered for years if not decades: tax reform, energy policy, entitlement programs, defense budgets, and many more.
Washington may be populated by some of the most hypocritical, conniving, lying, and masquerading as Mr. Smith Goes To Washington on the eve of every election cycle, individuals. But these are also pragmatic people. Washington, and the country, is also gifted with scores of real experts with real solutions to these problems. I challenge Congress to adopt the model used for military base closings to this range of unsolved national problems.
Democracy, as wonderful a governing idea as it is, is flawed in that it assumes an informed and wise electorate – an engaged electorate. Well my precinct had a 52% turnout in last Tuesday’s election. As a previous poll watcher I’m aware that too many go into the voting booth and face the candidates names and the ballot issues for the first time. And equally aware that few voters under the age of 30 are even motivated to show up at all. And for reasons social psychologists are just beginning to study, conservative personalities can be more predictably marched lock step to the polls than liberal personalities who, as lofty as their ideals may be, find any excuse not to exercise their franchise.
More autocratic governments can have an appearance of democracy while still having a strong central control of universal and long range policy – note the one child policy and imposition of the Three Gorges Dam project in China. In an economic “war” of the new world order, democracy has a potent adversary, and unless we come up with real solutions to govern such that national problems are faced timely rather than just being kicked down the road, then we may just forge a national decline of our own making.