Most people of either party can acknowledge this rare bipartisan truth: Our government is broken. Whether you're a conservative who wishes our elected representatives could rally their electoral mandate to reduce spending, or a liberal who sees Republicans' obstruction in Congress as fulfilling that party's desire to tank the economy and prove President Obama a failure, the story is the same. Our leaders cannot seem to work together -- or, for that matter, separately -- to get anything at all meaningful done.
In the arc of history, this is a fairly recent development. But it's one in line with the growing partisanship of politics, and it threatens to nullify the ability of lawmakers to effectively make, well, laws.
Obama, who on the campaign trail criticized George W. Bush for his expansion of the presidential office, has since come around to the idea of a strong executive. After two frustrating years of being stymied at every turn by his political rivals, Obama, according to several high-level administration staffers, decided the toxic D.C. environment could not sustain his open hand. Hope be damned, he launched his "We Can't Wait" policy, designed to force through economic plans like mortgage reform and bureaucratic blockages via recess appointments.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans were displeased. (Though it must be said they made no hay over Bush's unilateral expansion of the federal government's torture policy or surveillance state. Nor, for that matter, have Democrats opposed the new Obama doctrine. Such is politics.)
"If we are to get out of our present paralysis, we need not only strong leadership, but changes in institutional rules," argues Stanford professor Frank Fukuyama. The right may criticize Obama for his lack of leadership -- and the left for his willingness to compromise on progressive ideals -- but paralysis yields neither social progress nor debt reduction. Left or right, we all know something's got to give. The question now is: How much longer can we wait?
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