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 Why our government is broken 
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Modmin Dude
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Post Why our government is broken
CNN wrote:

By David Frum, CNN Contributor
updated 11:42 AM EST, Mon September 26, 2011

Editor's note: This is the first in a special series of CNN opinion pieces this week on the theme: "Why is our government so broken?" A special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002, he is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and is the editor of FrumForum

Washington (CNN) -- When Tip O'Neill retired in 1987, he was asked how the quality of people elected to Congress had changed in his 30-plus years of service. The former Speaker of the House answered: "The quality is clearly better, much better." But, he added, "The results are definitely worse."

He meant: as compared to the Congresses of the 1950s, the Congresses of the 1980s contained fewer drunks and fewer crooks. Members were better educated and harder working. Yet the Congresses of the 1950s managed to balance the budget, confirm presidential nominees in reasonable time and enact programs, like the one that created the interstate highway system. The Congresses of the 1980s could do none of those things.

And of course the contemporary record is even worse. This past summer, Congress very nearly pushed the United States into an unnecessary default. Another government shutdown looms. The budgeting of the United States is in chaos. The Federal Reserve has been left for months with two vacancies on its seven-member board because of secret holds by individual senators.

Politics is a contest, limited by certain unwritten rules. And over the past two decades, old rules have broken down.

Under the old rules, there were certain things that political parties did not do -- even though theoretically they could. If one party controlled the Senate and another party controlled the presidency, the Senate party did not reject all the president's nominees. The party that controlled the House did not refuse to schedule votes on the president's budgets. Individual senators did not use secret holds to sway national policy. The filibuster was reserved for rare circumstances -- not as a routine 60-vote requirement on every Senate vote.

It's incredible to look back now on how the Reagan tax cut passed the Democratic House in 1981. The Democratic House leaderships could have refused to schedule votes on Reagan's tax plans. Instead, they not only allowed the tax plan to proceed -- but they allowed 48 of 243 Democrats to break ranks on the key procedural vote without negative consequences to their careers in the Democratic party. (Rep. Dan Glickman of Kansas, for example, who voted for the tax cuts would rise to become Secretary of Agriculture under President Clinton.)

Hard to imagine Speaker John Boehner allowing his Republicans to get away with similar behavior on a measure proposed by President Obama.

What's happening before our eyes is that the US congressional system is adopting the attitudes of a Westminster-style parliamentary system.

In a parliamentary system, "the duty of an opposition is to oppose" (in the famous words of Benjamin Disraeli). The opposition uses every trick and technique to thwart and defeat the government; the government uses all the powers of a parliamentary majority to overwhelm the opposition. (To quote Disraeli again: "a majority is always better than the best repartee.")

Then, at regular intervals, the two sides switch roles.

In the American system, there is no "government" and no "opposition." Who would lead such a "government"? President Obama? Or the man in command of the majority in the lower House -- Prime Minister John Boehner?

In a system built around an administration and a bicameral Congress, everybody is part of the government -- and the government only functions if there exists a certain baseline spirit of cooperation between the mutually indispensable parts.

That spirit of cooperation has tended to vanish in recent years. Back in 1986, Democratic leaders quashed those in their party who wished to try impeach Ronald Reagan over Iran-Contra. But as the Cold War ended, the party struggle intensified. The shock of the economic crisis since 2008 has made things worse still: desperate times lead to desperate politics.

The old rules were based upon certain conditions that have long since vanished.

Back then, Congress was filled with legislators who shared the common bond of military service: in 1981, 73 of the senators were veterans as compared to only 25 today; a similar trend characterizes the House.

The imperatives of the Cold War inspired a spirit of deference to the president.

The long association of the filibuster with opposition to civil rights tended to discredit its use.

The national media were dominated by a few big institutions that professed (even if they did not always deliver) nonpartisanship.

Americans intermingled more with people of different points of view. Bill Bishop points out in his important book, "The Big Sort," in the very close presidential election of 1976, only 26% of Americans lived in a county that went for Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter by a margin of 20 points or more. In the also close presidential election of 2004, almost 50% of Americans lived in a county that voted by more than 20 points for either George W. Bush or John Kerry.

Perhaps above all: the long prosperity of the postwar years lubricated the system with enough resources that just about everybody could get some of what they wanted: more spending, moderate taxes, reasonable borrowing, strong national defense.

Now instead we have a country that is spatially polarized, that gets its information from highly partisan media, and that confronts the worst recession and the darkest financial outlook since the 1930s.

The results of these changes are breaking the American political system -- destroying public confidence in the U.S. government -- and paralyzing the U.S. economic policy. It will take more than a change in attitudes to address these concerns. It will take fundamental institutional reform.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.


Lots of interesting points here. Let's hope We the People figure it out before its too late.

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September 26th, 2011, 1:14 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
What's funny is, the main point of the article is what Glenn Beck has been saying for years and he got called a "conspiracy theorist" for it. He has been saying that a partisan media full of radicals at the helm, along with a radically left extremely wealthy Hollywood contingent, has been systematically destroying our country from within. They (progressives as he calls them) have an agenda, and they've been executing it rather successfully.

The only points that the article really disagrees with Beck about is that both sides are doing it (conservatives are breaking the old unwritten "rules," just as democrats did in the prior administration's Congress, and weather or not its a conscious undertaking or not.


September 26th, 2011, 2:57 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
Quote:
Why our government is broken


2 words: Republicans - Democrats

A two party system sucks if both parties suck.

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September 26th, 2011, 3:26 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
Ironically I think the fact everything each individual congress person does being blasted all over the left, right, middle, up, down media has hurt things a lot. Why wouldn't Boehner let someone quitly break ranks? Because the media will blast it all over the air and say how he has lost control. Then the groups looking for drastic change that vote in blocks to get these people in revolt and look for the next big thing.

I think people being more "informed" (let's not argue on how good the information really is or how politisized it is when it gets to us) has actually hurt the parties' ability to get anything done. Representatives seem to represent more than their electors but rather have to make them and the national media happy. I think some of the rules are broken now because the game has changed and we are partly to blame as we drive the media to give us what we ask for.

Good example, John Stewart called out CNBC brilliantly for not being the investigative reporting we needed in the financial world. They are giving us what we want, not what we need. People want to know how to make money and those selling that idea prosper. Those giving gloom and doom no one watched. We want though to know who's screwing up (in our eyes) and the altest gossip. We only fuel the need to do what get's done IMO.

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September 26th, 2011, 3:38 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
steensn wrote:
Ironically I think the fact everything each individual congress person does being blasted all over the left, right, middle, up, down media has hurt things a lot. Why wouldn't Boehner let someone quitly break ranks? Because the media will blast it all over the air and say how he has lost control. Then the groups looking for drastic change that vote in blocks to get these people in revolt and look for the next big thing.

I think people being more "informed" (let's not argue on how good the information really is or how politisized it is when it gets to us) has actually hurt the parties' ability to get anything done. Representatives seem to represent more than their electors but rather have to make them and the national media happy. I think some of the rules are broken now because the game has changed and we are partly to blame as we drive the media to give us what we ask for.

Good example, John Stewart called out CNBC brilliantly for not being the investigative reporting we needed in the financial world. They are giving us what we want, not what we need. People want to know how to make money and those selling that idea prosper. Those giving gloom and doom no one watched. We want though to know who's screwing up (in our eyes) and the altest gossip. We only fuel the need to do what get's done IMO.


Holy cow! I actually agree with Steensn on this. The world might be coming to an end.

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September 26th, 2011, 8:00 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
People ignore the impact WE have on all this... along with lots of other things. They think the media is the ones to blame yet without us they wouldn't be in business.

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September 26th, 2011, 8:27 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
Why our government is broken?

Easy....because politicians don't think they are representatives of the people who put them in office, but rather they feel the need to represent those who pay them for favors while they are in office. They represent all the special interest groups their party aligns with, and they refuse to do the RIGHT thing in favor of doing the EASY thing.

Kill all the politicians and start over with the idea that they cannot make a career out of being a politician. It would also help if there was a limit on terms, no free healthcare after they leave, no pensions and a law stating that a politician CANNOT serve if they have commited a felony, are in the midst of bankruptcy, or it is confirmed that have a drinking/drug problem.

Honestly, I think the terrorists would have done this country a GREAT favor if they had taken out the Senate and Congress on 9/11.

This country is staring down the barrel of a national revolution, with the little people being tired of the politicians being in it for themselves. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but I think it will in my children's lifetimes. And all because the people who get themselves elected forgot who put them there.

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September 27th, 2011, 8:56 am
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
Fortunately, the lamestream media is losing it's power and influence with more and more people turning to the internet to get their news and information. Newspapers are losing circulation with some going out of business, the network evening news ratings have been in steady decline, and most magazines are losing subscribers at a record pace. This is being called the Dinosaur Media Death Watch, and it can't come soon enough IMO. Since they decided to abandon impartial reporting in favor of putting a left wing spin on things, they deserve what's happening to them now. They made their choice, so now they have to deal with the ugly consequences.

As for the government itself, the Democrats have moved so far to the left that it's unrecognizable to most older Americans. If JFK could see what has happened to his party, he would roll over in his grave. It now more closely resembles the Democratic Socialist Party in Europe than it does the Democratic Party that your grandfather used to know.

As a consequence of this, the Republican Party has moved further to the right, which would actually be considered Centrist 100 years ago before Woodrow Wilson became President. Therefore, nothing is going to get done, except a battle for this nation's soul, which will take place in November 2012. Fortunately, it appears more and more likely that Americans will make the right choice this time around.

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September 27th, 2011, 1:51 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
Lol... yeah the internet media is even better... :-k =; #-o

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September 27th, 2011, 2:07 pm
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
CNN wrote:
Is America becoming a house divided against itself?
By David Gergen and Michael Zuckerman
updated 9:28 AM EST, Wed September 28, 2011

Editor's note: This is one of a series of CNN Opinion articles on the question: "Why is our government so broken?" David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter: @David_Gergen. Michael Zuckerman, who graduated from Harvard College in 2010, is David Gergen's assistant.

Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) -- When trouble strikes in our personal lives and we are searching for a source, it usually makes sense to take a look in a familiar place -- the mirror. And so it should be in our troubled politics today.

Many of us are deeply angry at politicians in Washington and the broken government they have created. We tend to look down upon them as jackasses and ideologues who are incapable of organizing a two-car funeral. We blame special interests for capturing them, a 24/7 media for encouraging them, and power for corrupting them. Indeed, a list of reasons for broken government could -- and will -- fill a week of columns.

But perhaps we give too little attention to the basic notion that our politicians are also a reflection of the public they represent. As the old saying goes, we get the president we deserve -- and usually the Congress, too. In truth, our fractured politics are due in no small part to a fractured country -- one in which consensus and moderation are disappearing. With apologies to President Truman: the buck stops here.

Those of us who are older -- born somewhere close to midcentury -- grew up in an America where there was a general consensus that the United States was a great nation, that you could be a success if you worked hard and played by the rules, that government had a positive role to play when trouble hit, and that politics must stop at the water's edge as we united against dangerous enemies. But with Vietnam, the tumult of the '60s and '70s, Watergate and more, our sense of common purpose began collapsing.

Listen for a moment to three of the smartest observers in the country who have weighed in this week on the collapse. In this week's New York Magazine, columnist Frank Rich argues that by the late 1960s, "the bipartisan national consensus over the central role of government -- which had held firm through the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations -- was kaput. The Reagan revolution was in the wings."

We also began to lose faith in ourselves and our values. In an interview with the Financial Times early this week, Professor Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School chimed in with pained observations about what is happening to American competitiveness: "This is shocking for the U.S. If you go back 100 years, you find that the U.S. was a huge pioneer in public education. ... The U.S. was a real pioneer in creating a national, very deep university system. ... The U.S. was a pioneer in the interstate highway system. ... We stepped to the plate in the past and made very, very bold investments in the fundamental environment for competitiveness. But right now, we can't seem to agree on any of these things."

Or listen to William Galston, who was instrumental in helping President Clinton bridge the divides in politics. In the New Republic, he argues that the middle is shrinking in politics. In 1992, he points out, Gallup found that 43% of respondents identified themselves as moderates, 37% as conservatives, and 17% as liberals. In 2009, conservatives and liberals were each up 4% and moderates were down by 7%.

Similarly, a study of national election data by Alan Abramovitz found that in 1984, some 41% identified themselves at the midpoint of an ideological scale versus 10% who placed themselves at liberal or conservative extremes. By 2005, the number who identified themselves at the center had dropped to only 28%, while the number at the endpoints had risen to 23%.

We continue to hear that even so, independents have the whip hand in electoral politics and we tend to assume that they are middling in their views, open to argument, and rather homogeneous. But even these assumptions seem doubtful. Frank Rich, for example, highlights a recent Pew survey that suggests that nearly half of independents are actually Democrats (21%) or Republicans (26%) who just shy away from the label, while another 20% are more populist, skeptical Democrats ("Doubting Dems"), 16% are "disaffected" voters with a highly negative view of government, and 17% are "disengaged" altogether. Not exactly a portrait of moderate unity.

Surely there are many sources of the fractures in today's electorate, just as there are many social scientists more qualified to take a crack at explaining them. But one potential contributing factor comes from a fascinating piece in National Affairs by Marc Dunkelman, who fears the winnowing out of so-called "middle-tier relationships" for the American citizen.

These relationships have long been, as Dunkelman puts it, "at the root of American community life," and encompass such different-minded acquaintances as "bridge partners, brothers in the Elks club, fellow members of the PTA." But these connections have withered in recent years, even as we stay close to those like-minded folks who inhabit our inner circles of friends and family, and are connected on an unprecedented scale by technology and social media to those farther away. Without these vibrant, heterogeneous "middle-tier" relationships, Dunkelman argues, it may simply be much harder to build the sense of public trust and unity that allows people to stand up to big challenges together.

The good news is that, as with any self-inflicted wound, the power is in our hands to change course. And indeed there is a growing sense in the country that people are finally getting tired of this particularly rancid level of divisiveness. There is a generation rising -- singled out in a recent TIME Magazine cover story as "The Next Greatest Generation" -- that, led by its young military veterans, is eager to put aside partisan squabbles to get things done.

The bipartisan group No Labels recently convened a conference call with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz that they reported drew more than 100,000 participants. And even in Washington itself, Lamar Alexander, a senior Republican senator, recently quit his leadership post so he could devote more time to forging consensus and working across the aisle.

So there is cause for hope. In the meantime, it is up to us to continue to hold those in the halls of power accountable for results and not just party orthodoxy, and to expose ourselves to people outside our handpicked inner sanctums, ideas and opinions outside our own ideologies, and even news sources different from our favorites (unless you're a regular CNN viewer, of course).

Politics in this country has always been rough-and-tumble, and so it should be. But as no less a patriot than former Secretary Bob Gates reminded us last Thursday while accepting the Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center, "The warning given a long time ago by Benjamin Franklin still applies: 'Either we hang together or we will surely all hang separately." That advice likewise applies as much to our representatives in government as it does to those to whom the founders truly entrusted the reins of power -- us.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/28/opinion/g ... ?hpt=hp_c2

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September 28th, 2011, 11:07 am
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Post Re: Why our government is broken
The article points out, IMO correctly so, to middle America no longer agreeing on how to see things. Why is this? IMO the single most liable organization(s) causing this problem are unions. Think about it... What other organization clashes with middle America so frequently? What other organization is so diametrically opposed to our traditional way of doing business? What other organization has members so ingrained and programmed to believing its rhetoric, to the point you can't even talk to them about real-life problems and issues?

Union workers feel "entitled" to their jobs, entitled to work less, entitled to more vacation time, entitled to "more." Non-union workers are happy to have their jobs, think that it is ok that factory owners, business owners, and corporations make money, and they just want to live their lives.


September 28th, 2011, 4:37 pm
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