The government certainly gets a bad wrap these days. It’s ineffective. It’s inefficient. It creates more problems than it solves and it sticks its burueacratic nose where it doesn’t belong. In the past, I’ve made the assertion that a government is only as effective as the people elected to it. In other words, if you elect incomeptent boobs to office, you’ll get an ineffective government. And to a certain extent, I still stand by that.
But as I was driving home today, I was reflecting more about that idea. And I came to a rather different conclusion. It isn’t the government at all. No, it’s the people. The people of this country are ungovernable.
Please keep in mind that I’m strictly talking about the American people and government here. I can’t and won’t speak to other cultures and their governments. But if anyone else has some experience aborad with the interaction of people and government, please feel free to share. Back to my theory.
It’s a common assertion that the biggest problem with American politics these days is the polarization of the two parties. As time has gone on, they’ve drifted farther and farther apart in terms of ideology and methodology. The hyperpartisanship in Washington is creating so much gridlock that nothing ever gets done.
That does indeed seem true. But if it is, what that really represents is a reflection of the people in America. If hyperpartisan politicians populate the halls of the Capitol these days, it’s because Americans put them there, presumably because those citizens saw something in the cadidate that they liked, a reflection of their own values and ideas.
In other words, it isn’t Washington that’s hyperpartisan–it’s the American people.
Think about it. This country is deeply divided among all areas. Religion: you have a growing number of atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with a religion diametrically opposed to evangelical Christians. Scientifically: you have people who think climate change is a hoax and evolution is a scam and vaccines cause autism, and then you have people who lead an evidence based life and want to make changes accordingly. Economically: you have people who think that free markets are God’s gift to America and that socialism is the same thing as communism, and then you have people who oppose wealth and income inequality and want to radically alter the system.
Pro-life/Pro-choice. Anti-trans bathroom laws/boycotts. Occupy Wallstreet/The Tea Party. Lower all the taxes/raise all the taxes. Raise the minimum wage/eliminte social programs. The constitution should always be strictly interpreted/the constitution is a living document. There are so many diametrically opposed viewpoints in this country, it’s simply impossible to govern.
You simply can’t arrive at a compromise with a lot of these issues. There is no middle ground on these issues for most Americans. There are people who absolutely will not supprt any sort of tax increase for any reason whatsoever–just look at Grover Norquist and his foundation that make politicians sign anti-tax pledges. Look at all the tea party rallies. If you’re pro-choice, there really isn’t any restriction on abortion that you’d accept, and many pro-life folks think that abortion should be banned in all cases, even rape and incest. There are millions of Americans who will absolutely not accept ANY form of gun control.
These issues–all of the issues in the American conversation–are simply non-negotiable to people. And so they elect politicians for whom these things are also non-negotiable. And that goes for both sides of the aisle, democrats and republicans. It’s why nothing ever gets done, and it’s why it’s probably never going to get better. The viewpoints in American society are too diverse to unify, too radically different to find a middle ground on. Too many people in this country profoundly and fundamentally disagree with the other side that’s impossible to arrive at any sort of meaningful solutions. And at this point, I really don’t see what the possible solutions are.