Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is Our Political System a Natural or Unnatural Disaster?

… either way, it’s a disaster, right?  I’ve been thinking about different types of disasters the last couple days as -- well -- I’m in Key West on vacation.  Yep. Right in the middle of Isaac.  Here's one of my favorite shots of the great time I'm having.

Fortunately the impacts here were far less dramatic than anticipated. In fact Isaac turned out to be less of a tropical storm and more of a tropical snit. Or a tropical cranky pants.

On the other hand, as of this writing it looks like New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast may not be so lucky.  Can we all just take a minute to send good vibes out to those in Isaac’s path? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
OK, welcome back. So with storms on my mind, I’ve been thinking about the natural and unnatural factors that make our own political tempests so, ummm, challenging and can make arguments either way: 
·        Why Our Political System is a Natural Disaster: Frankly, the founding fathers designed our U.S. system of government to be completely and totally inefficient. They erred more toward promoting inertia as opposed to action. Imagine running a business or association (or family) with 535 people on your board of directors. This means that at least 270 people (1/2 the House plus ½ the Senate plus the President) must agree to the exact language of legislation before it can become law. And these are people with more than your average size egos.   For anyone seeking to achieve anything that’s a recipe for disaster. 

·        Why it’s an Unnatural Disaster: All that said, the founding fathers also assumed (by the way, see my Influence Game blog post on “assumption”) that everyone would be grown-ups and work toward compromises to benefit not only their constituencies but the overall good of the country. Not so much lately, right?  This happens because people -- not words on a piece of paper -- implement the processes and structures of government. Whenever you get people involved there’s always considerable room for an unnatural mess.
In addition, although we don’t want to accept responsibility, citizens perpetuate the problems. Knee-jerk reactions, extreme partisanship and unwillingness to compromise aren’t exclusive to politicians.  Let’s all take a look at our actions, thoughts and beliefs to see if we can tone down the political storm a little. No one wants a hurricane.

No comments: