- Posted April 11, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
iReport Debate: What’s your top issue?
My number 1 issue is the quality of the policy debates in this country. Many people don't seem to understand even the simplest things about public policy, and that has lead to discussions that are all emotion and no substance. A few examples are: (1) People do not understand the powers of the the Office of the President. Presidents have almost no control at all over the economy at large, and what little control they do have given to them by Congress. (2) People focus on the personal foibles of political personalities. Sex scandals and accidental misstatements have no bearing on a candidate's ability to perform the job for which we are hiring them. (3) People are entirely uninterested in finding realistic solutions. Given the option, a great many people would vote for both decreased taxes and increased services, a completely untenable plan. (4) People overestimate the amount of ill-will in political actors. However wrong we might think they are, politicians are generally trying to make things better. None of them intend to destroy America. Finally, (5) people are entirely unwilling to accept any responsibility for the negative outcomes in the system. We need to acknowledge one of two things: either the American system works, and the people are responsible for negative outcomes, or negative outcomes are forced on us by others, and the American system of government doesn't work.
All of this produces candidates that can't do anything but lie and pander. We punish them for doing anything else. If a candidate expresses a nuanced view of a topic, he gets skewered. If a candidate acknowledges that his favored policy has some potential downside, he gets killed. If he lets on that he is even considering the possibility of slightly altering a popular policy, we treat him like a heretic. This, of course, is because we don't want to hear someone consider an idea, we demand fully formed policy perfection the first time that a candidate speaks, and forever more.
Until the public at large gets these problems under control, politics will continue to be an unsolvable mess. This year, I will be watching the people, not the politicians. And if all I see is another year of red team vs. blue team debates, the kind of debates you might hear in the stands at a high school football game, then I'm just going to start voting for the craziest weirdo on the ballot. Is your platform time-travel based? Do you think that all of the nations problems could be solved with horseradish? Maybe you consult a hamster before every serious decision. Then you've got my vote. It can't be any worse than what our public discourse produces now.