Tuesday, November 29, 2011

congressional dysfunction

I've been otherwise engaged lately, confining my comments to my class.  One recent discovery deserves broader attention -- the article by propublica exploring the reasons for congressional dysfunction and including many links to excellent articles by Norm Ornstein and others. The explanations are not surprising  -- party polarization, preoccupation with the money chase, hyper-vigilant and hyper-active media, and a belief that minor disputes merit battles to the death -- but they are well argued and well documented. Regrettably, nobody has a silver bullet answer. I have long shared Norm Ornstein's view that greater socialization would help, and that that could be promoted by forcing members to spend more time in Washington, ideally with their families in town. I also wish that something could be adopted to limit the money chase. But both of those changes seem unlikely in the short run. A key point in this article that usually doesn't get mentioned enough is that most of the changes date from the mid-1990s and especially the Gingrich revolution that drastically changed politics in the House of Representatives. The years before were different, and better. I wish they could be recaptured.

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