Has my government lost its balls?

It seems to me that in recent years, federal policy has been based primarily upon partisanship, and catering to specific interest groups, instead of making hard decisions aimed at solving real problems. How high on your list of our nation’s concerns do you rate a constitutional amendment against flag burning? Whether you agree with Clinton’s abortive attempt to address health insurance, is it appropriate that the discussion never even got off the table.

Has this always been the case? Is it preferable to have policy develop through incremental fits and starts and with an eye towards the political advantage gained by the participants? Is this the way it has always been? Am I misleading myself in believing it was not always this way - were the Civil Rights Act, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan either anomalies, or undesirable forms of government action?

It strikes me that much of policy today is formulated with the desire to avoid upsetting anyone (or at least anyone who votes orcontributes), with the result that it fails to address the root cause of the problem. And actions, including the committment of troops, are taken with an eye towards how that will affect the polls, rather than whether it is the proper use of the military in support of a just cause that is appropriately our country’s interest.

I guess it is a legitimate position to say the federal government should rarely act in this way, and should address most social issues by block grants to states.

Can we identify a short list of problems that are appropriately addressed by federal action, and discuss the likelihood of such action occurring?

I could take this a few different ways.

One is the hardline conservative approach where one complains about the bleeding hearts with no balls taking over government. I fail to see it myself.

Looking at the examples in the OP, I could also state that the it is not a lack of cajones which causes the non-action of our recent times, but a lack of real bi-partisan politics which makes it almost impossible to get things done.

All that said, I’ll look at it everything you say and chalk it up to politics as usual and be done with it, m’kay?

Yer pal,
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I remember a quote from a British TV series (used to run on PBS) called “Yes, Prime Minister” that I mull over at times like this. The PM is trying to justify a stupid, cowardly, but popular decision to the civil servants who (supposedly) work for him. “The people elected me. I am their leader. I must follow them.”

Somehow to me that captures the spirit of pandering that you describe, but on some level it’s defensible too.

I’d like to have leaders with beliefs, and who could articulate them. Leaders who could coherently argue the consequences of their policies but recognized that they governed only at the consent of all the citizens of the country.

Wake me if you find one.

The government will be having a ball on January 20th.

Is this anything like Mr. T Ate My Balls?

But wait a second. The elected members of the government are supposed to listen to we, the people. I think that a representative that keeps a healthy eye on the polls is not pandering - he’s doing his job.

OTOH…That elected official has a duty to him/herself to follow his/her own conscience, polls be damned.

sandyr, that’s pretty much what I meant about it being defensible. Maybe it’s hard to appreciate the quote out of context. “I am their leader. I must follow them.” said with even the faintest hint of irony, in a slight Churchillian accent, and said to justify a decision that was completely and cravenly wrong. If you ever have the chance to see “Yes, Prime Minister” (or its predecessor, “Yes, Minister”), don’t miss it. It’s some of the best political satire I’ve seen.

But the question of whether our leaders should lead us or follow us is one I’m still working on.

My current take on the state of the government isn’t that it’s lacking in courage, although I’m damned if I can think of anything courageous any of them have done lately. I just think that the political process is too disjointed and incoherent these days. I can’t recall hearing a well-reasoned argument for (or against) any policies. After a few conventions and stump speeches, I know who’s pandering to which special interests, I hear both sides bickering over who’s being more bipartisan, and won’t somebody think of the children. Passage of a bill means that the winners have greater political momentum and the losers want to make sure that the winners don’t get too much credit. It’s all presented as a horse race, not a discourse on the direction of the nation. In my to-read stack at home is a copy of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I’ll let you all know if things were any better in 1858.

I want a politician to stand up, tell me what problem he hopes to address, what his plan is, and how s/he believes it will work. Ever heard anything like that about the marriage tax penalty? School vouchers? Social Security reform?

That’s the way I see it at the moment. Whether it’s due to an absence of balls I haven’t decided yet.

I don’t always jump right back in to correct my typos, but this one’s necessary. That first paragraph should read in part “…said without even the faintest hint of irony…”.

If any of the mods would care to correct that, it would make my ramblings a lot clearer.

Note that this already seems part of “the good old days”. Scary.

i’ve heard that George Wallace was not particularly racist in his position as a judge. the 1st time he ran for office he didn’t play to the racists and he lost. he decided he would have to tell people what they wanted to hear to get elected.

to me it often looks like the US has gotten stupider since the late 60’s when i was a teenager. sometimes i think it’s because i didn’t know enough to figure out how dumb life was then and sometimes i think it has gotten a LOT STUPIDER. i suppose it is really a combination of the two. television is brainwashing people into being stupid.

the cost of TV puts the politicians in a vulnerable position. and the constant polling gives them instant feedback of psychological nonsense.

                                              Dal Timgar