Saturday, September 5, 2009

Random Thought for the Day

There are essentially two way of looking at the legislative process:

1) You can belittle it. You can argue that our Senators and representatives are too beholden to constituents, special interests, and public opinion polls to ever effect real, substantive change on big-ticket policy issues. From this perspective, the process is inherently flawed, with an array of backward incentives that discourage intelligent large-scale reforms.

2) You can embrace it. You can choose to see all the bickering, partisan incrementalism -- the messy "consensus-building" -- as reflective of a society with conflicting moral and social priorities, where no one has a monopoly on truth, but where we slowly move toward some kind of positive collective agreement. As Immanuel Kant allegedly put it, "out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made."

I suppose you could also do both of these things -- or, perhaps, you could see it in a totally different light -- but I think most people tend to fall into one of these two camps. Either you belittle the process or you embrace it.

So, which camp do you think you fall into?

4 comments:

J. Biggs said...

Definitely the first camp. There are obvious problems with our society that most people recognize, yet they never change due to the stagnant, calcified nature of our political process. Why is this something to celebrate? Perhaps if we didn't live on a polluted planet, in a country where people didn't suffer for lack of money, we could give our political process praise, but in our current state, it's clearly an across-the-board failure. Yes, we are a society with a wide array of views, but something like environmental law should be very obviously beneficial even to corporate polluters; after all, to quote the famous line, there is no business to be done on a dead planet. Yet instead, we live in a country where people have become so convinced of lies that they value a corporation's right to pollute more than their own right to live on a life-sustaining planet. I find that highly disturbing, and I think it's a symptom of the failure of our political process, in which truth has no advantage over lies.

J. Biggs said...

Given this state of affairs, where the powerful ignore the people when they're united, and confuse and divide them with lies whenever they can, I don't see how anyone could praise our system. In a smart society, about 75% of the political doctrines out there in today's US would be considered laughable. But we live in a society that is uneducated and manipulable. In that sense, our system is exactly the system those people deserve. But those of us educated and objective enough to see these flaws shouldn't embrace them, we should look for any way we have to remedy them.

mikhailbakunin said...

It seems like there is a disconnect between your first comment ("[t]here are obvious problems with our society that most people recognize, yet they never change due to the stagnant, calcified nature of our political process") and your second comment ("[b]ut we live in a society that is uneducated and manipulable. In that sense, our system is exactly the system those people deserve").

How do you reconcile these two statements?

Ms. Judice said...

I guess I would be some sort of combination of the two options you propose here. There are serious issues that should be addressed and remedied - for example, the amount of political influence corporations or lobbyist groups wield. I am not sure I would want to embrace these problems, but we (and those in power) need to figure out how to work with it.