Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fathering Bad Government

All of the gnashing of teeth over the current state of politics and government, both at the state and federal levels, will continue to accomplish little if the following concept, stated in the words of George Will, is not heeded:

High-stakes government that directly dispenses trillions of dollars and influences, with tax benefits and regulations, the flow of trillions more, elicits a high-stakes influence industry. Thoughtful people who recoil from many repugnant aspects of contemporary politics should squarely face the fact that big government begets bad politics.

Will states this while providing a review of Joe Klein's new book, "Politics Lost: How American Democracy Was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid." Though the book has a promising title, Will describes the thesis and conclusions as flawed. Klein seems to think that our greatest need is to rediscover authentic politics unsullied by political consultants. In Will's view -- and mine -- authenticity can cut both ways. When Al Gore sighed and grimaced his way through a debate with George Bush, the American public saw an authentic Gore that repulsed them.

Political consultants, with their penchant for cynicism and disdain for the people that they appeal to, deserve to be thought of as trivializers and game players, but they are more symptom than root cause. If Americans want better government, they should remember that government that governs best governs least.

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