Saturday, July 19

Sparse Change?

Traditionally presidential political campaigns are high on ideals and low on results--for every big idea that is adopted, there are hundreds more that never see the light of day. Is it any wonder that the electorate is sour to Washington DC's ways and means?

Politics is the "art of the possible" and thus there are many mediums employed to create this "art". Legislation is sculpted by lobbying interests, painted by public policy gurus, digitally enhanced by spin doctors, and then sometimes acted on by politicians whose world view is occluded by the next election cycle.

Are we the "nation of whiners" that John McCain supporter and former Senator Phil Gramm says we are? If he means that we complain that those we send to Washington to represent us don't live up to our expectations, then, yes, we are guilty as charged. We like to think of our leaders as living up to their predecessors, after all this is the USA, land of constant improvement.

The fact is that most of us don't really participate in the messy world of policy. The language of legal documents makes our eyes glaze over and so we wait for it to be cut up by the press and advocacy groups into easily digestible pieces. However, in legislation, like all things involving planning, the devil is in the detail. Buried in most legislation are bits and pieces that are added on, aka "pork". Sometimes the pork is tasty pork and other times it is a trade-off to get the legislation through committee.

The point of all this is that for real change to happen in Washington, we need to be better consumers and voters and push for things like clean legislation. Without insisting that the way business is done in Washington is changed, it won't make as much difference who we send there.

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