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U.S. Politics and Policy: Frustrating and Fascinating

January 19, 2006 - 5 Comments

I was at a lunch last week with a leader of one of the major political parties and s/he explained the “no” votes on a particular piece of legislation thusly, (I’m paraphrasing): “The legislation was good legislation, but only marginally impactful. We wanted the members of our party to vote against it, however, because it would mean that the other party would have to get all of their members to vote for it in able for it to pass, especially those in swing-districts or less safe seats. Meaning, of course, that they would be more vulnerable in their general elections.” The focus was not on the “good legislation” but on defeating the other party and having an issue to “get them” come election time. I then read today somewhere the Senate Democratic leader was going to focus on “corruption” of the other party as the way to gain seats for his party, a la 1994 in the post-House banking era. Corruption is a big topic in Washington these days obviously because of Jack Abramoff, but rather than reacting to the news in front of their faces (both sides recently came out with Lobbying Reform Measures), how about focusing on the issues that will actually be impactful to the citizens of this nation? Healthcare anyone? Education? Broadband for every man, woman and child who wants it? No, let’s focus on lobbying reform. Politics is obviously a part of policy. It is the way the U.S. system works. What happened, however, to IDEAS?!! What happened to the OPTIMISM of President Reagan? What happened to doing what is best for the country? What happened to doing what is best for your constituents? There are good ideas out there and the good ones will hopefully rise to the top. The process, however, is a bit frustrating. Perhaps I’ve been out of DC too long and have lost perspective. Perhaps not. In related news, The Gallup Poll came out today and stated that only 27% of voters see the Congress in a favorable light. Perhaps lobbying reform (i.e. my read: not trusting themselves to throw a vote in exchange for a steak) will get them to 28%. I doubt it.

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  1. To the poster who referred to my Republican political views...please read my bio here: I would also add that talking about high tech policy without politics (or any policy without politics) is like baking without's just a part of the deal."

  2. Regarding lobbying reform, John McCain has put himself in another position as a sort of mediator among the two parties. One one hand, he must convince Democrats to cooperate with Republicans and resist attempts to crush the GOP, yet at the same time move his own party away from earmarking. If Roy Blunt is voted majority leader on Feb. 2, the GOP is going to have a real hard time moving away from their addiction to pork.Anyhow John, I agree entirely with your sentiments regarding healthcare, education and access to technology, I sincerely hope Congress can get back to these issues instead of playing political games.Interesting blog too!

  3. Nope. Perhaps the people in Washington have been at it too long and know exactly how to play the game.Suppose your boss asks you to do something unethical; do you do it, refuse quietly, or refuse loudly. Without a doubt, the easiest, most economical route is to do it. I'm not saying that's right, but that's how the game is played. Refuse loudly and you will likely find yourself out of a job and regretting your decision. That's why we have laws employee protection laws, but they are inefficient and incomplete.Unfortunately, I would not expect transparency or communication to improve this in the future given the tribal nature of politics and the facility with which many are willing to ignore inconvenient facts, engage in faulty logic, or just simply lie.(Michael Lynn - victim, hero, or villian?)

  4. Hey, here's a question? When did this become about your Republican political views and not about high tech policy?Get a Livejournal if you want to prattle on like this.

  5. >>The process, however, is a bit frustrating. >>Perhaps I've been out of DC too long and have lost >>perspective.Or, somewhat obviously, perhaps others have been in DC too long and have lost their perspective.Though, John, I do hope that the Abramhoff ordeal will help in two ways. One, hopefully policymakers will be more apt to be influenced"" by the good ideas that you mention instead of those who ""play the game"" (all the way down to mandating who you hire). D vs. R is not the Crips vs. the Bloods. We all wear the same colors.And, two, in this participtory age fueled by the Internet and mobile connectivity, hopefully the spirit of transparency and ideas could be fueled by new technologies and information resources that open the policy making process to more of a meritocracy."