Sunday, May 20, 2012


Washington is broken.  Not a surprise to most anyone who pays attention to public policy in the United States but worth two extended opinion pieces in the Washington Post in the past few weeks.  Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, establishment scholars who span the range of acceptable thought, first wrote  a four page article on April 27.  That article clearly laid blame:
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
Today they comment on the popular bromides--term limits, balanced budget amendments, third parties--offered as solutions for America's gridlock and dysfunction.  Mann and Ornstein dismiss these "fixes" as unworkable, unwise or fantasy (my word).  They offer what they call  a "more sensible and promising reform agenda...focused on fixing the party system and addressing the roots and the weapons of political partisanship."

All four of their proposals make sense to me.  I especially favor instant runoff voting and like the delicious irony of a compulsory voting requirement combined with a lottery funded with fines paid by non-voters.

None of the proposals are likely to fly in Washington.  Mann and Ornstein may be pillars of the Washington Establishment but in today's political climate their ideas are as welcome as Marx and Engels.



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