Down with transparency?
According to a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll, 80% of Americans believe that government is broken — mainly because of fighting between the political parties and branches of the government. The poll found 33% blaming Republicans for a broken Washington and 27% blaming Democrats, with 2% blaming both parties, 5% unsure and 17% saying that Washington isn’t broken at all.
The message is clear: we don’t have faith that the U.S. government can be successful. But why is that? And what’s the solution?
According to CNN’s David Frum, the answer may be as simple as locking — and bolting — the doors to Congress. In his recent article, “Blame yesterday’s reforms for today’s gridlocked Congress“, he asks readers to take a quiz:
Name the most important legislation enacted in the 30 years between 1950 and 1980.
Overwhelming isn’t it? Civil rights. Voting rights. Interstate highways. Medicare. Medicaid. The deregulation of the airlines, natural gas, trucking, rail and oil. The immigration act of 1965. Clean Air, Clean Water, and the Endangered Species Acts. Supplemental Security Income in 1974. I could fill the whole screen.
Now … the next 30 years.
There’s the Reagan tax cuts of course. Deregulation of the savings & loans in 1982. The Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Welfare reform in 1995. Medicare Part D. What else?
He’s right. Why is it that Congress can’t get anything passed these days? Frum argues that the real cuprit are the bright, shining lights of the media. The polarizing party lines. The filibuster — most recently used by Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky to block short-term extension of unemployment and health insurance benefits. Frum asks Congress to bring back the smoke-filled rooms where secret deals are created! Where alliances are created far from the microscope of the public and media.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe when we stick our collective nose into the business of Congress, it makes Congress fearful to actually get anything done. They’ve got jobs to keep too, after all.