Tom Friedman thinks that they system is broken.
The sad and frustrating thing is, we are so close to being unstuck. If there were just six or eight Republican senators — a few more Judd Greggs and Lindsey Grahams — ready to meetIn other words, if only those idiot voters in Republican and Blue-Dog D districts would let us cram this thing they don't think is a good idea down their throats anyway, the system would "work". Apparently, the system "working" means you get to pass your agenda. If you run as a no-nonsense moderate reformer and win the presidency by a "solid majority" (what was it, 53%?) and then you govern from the far left and people don't like it and push back enough to frighten incumbents into withholding their votes ... the system is "broken".
Obamasomewhere in the middle on deficit reduction, energy, health care and banking reform, I believe that in the wake of the Massachusettswake-up call the president would indeed meet them in that middle ground to forge not just incremental compromises, but substantial ones on these key issues. But so far, the Republicans are having a good yearpolitically by just being the Party of No.
(Plus I love how, with huge majorities, Democrats continue to blame Republicans for not being able to cram Socialism down our throats.)
Jay Cost says it's working just fine. And I agree with him.
The solution the country ultimately settled on had five important features: checks and balances so that the branches would police one another; a large republic so that majority sentiment was fleeting and not intensely felt; a Senate where the states would be equal; enumerated congressional powers to limit the scope of governmental authority; and the Bill of Rights to offer extra protection against the government.The Federal Government, set up by the Constitution, isn't there to be constantly "moving us forward" and "getting things done" ... the Constitution severely limits it to keep it from doing things huge chunks of the population doesn't want. If it's not doing stuff, maybe it's because the stuff it's trying to do is stuff we don't want it to do.
The end result was a government that is powerful, but not infinitely so. Additionally, it is schizophrenic. It can do great things when it is of a single mind - but quite often it is not of one mind. So, to govern, our leaders need to build a broad consensus. When there is no such consensus, the most likely outcome is that the government will do nothing.
The President's two major initiatives - cap-and-trade and health care - have failed because there was not a broad consensus to enact them. Our system is heavily biased against such proposals. That's a good thing.
Maybe it should just stick to it's enumerated powers and stop trying to blur the meaning of words like, oh, I don't know ... "is".