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(37,305 posts)
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 07:53 AM Oct 2013

Ezra Klein: The 13 reasons Washington is failing

The government is shut down. Confidence in Congress is at all-time lows. The American people haven't believed the country to be on the right track in almost a decade. Congress might do something truly crazy and default on the national debt.

At this point, it's almost cliche to say Washington isn't working. But the truth is harsher: Washington is actively failing. It's failing to craft policies that make the country better. And it's failing to avoid disasters that make the country worse.

It's nice to imagine these failures are temporary or aberrational. It's comforting to believe that they're the result of bad people, or dumb people, or incompetent people. But the truth is more unnerving: The American political system is being torn apart by deep structural changes that don't look likely to reverse themselves anytime soon. A deal to reopen the government won't fix what ails American politics.

And so we need to look deeper than just this battle. The sooner we recognize that something is wrong with Washington, the sooner we can begin the hard work of fixing it. Here, then, are 13 of Washington's problems — ordered, subjectively, from small to big — and there are, of course, many more.

1) Earmarks are gone.


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(45,319 posts)
2. We excuse great crimes in high places, we promote and celebrate mediocrity
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 08:35 AM
Oct 2013

while punishing and shunning excellence. Vote for the Iraq War to End Yellowcake and you get put in charge of Defense, vote against it and you vanish into obscurity while Obama calls the Yes Voters 'my team'. Promote failure, demote success. It's the Third Way Method of making sure no one smart gets near them.


(1,508 posts)
4. Good article. Frightening prospects.
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 08:37 AM
Oct 2013

I'm afraid these baggers have permanently ruined the government and we'll never recover from this


(25,111 posts)
6. Tea nuts need to be voted out
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 10:26 AM
Oct 2013

and replace with people who give a shit about the country and its democracy. I see the Koch's plan is trying to come together but America will defeat them, and no, they have not won a damn thing.


(35,236 posts)
7. From a normal human being's perspective, Washington is failing. But, from a rich asshat's view...
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 10:27 AM
Oct 2013

it's working precisely the way they want it to work. The more dysfunctional government is, the more that the people will turn against it and lost faith in it.

That makes people dependent on corporate power to fill the void.

abq e streeter

(7,658 posts)
8. Sorry, but this is absurd: Democrats have moved further left??? In what universe?
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 10:28 AM
Oct 2013

"Though both parties have moved toward their respective poles, Republicans have moved much further right than Democrats have moved left. "



(19,429 posts)
11. I'd think Pelosi and Reid are to the left of Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 11:01 AM
Oct 2013

The absence of southern Democrats shifts the average rating of Democrats in Congress to the left.


(2,908 posts)
9. A few flaws in the piece, but pretty good otherwise
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 10:38 AM
Oct 2013

The item about how both parties have become more ideologically extreme is wrong. I dispute with a vengeance that the Democratic party has become more liberal. It has, in fact, become more centrist and DLC-like in the aggregate.

The huge gap in ideology is completely at the feet of the conservative party. The few areas that DW-Nominate finds the Dems have gone more liberal are merely reactions, or counterweights, to the emergence of severe Republican positions which, if Dems didn't counter with a little extremity of their own, would allow a destructive runaway of conservative principles.

It's like driving off the road and causing an accident, but it's explained as partly you driving off the road and partly the road moving out from under you. Technically, you and the road parted ways. But, you can't divvy up the cause of the accident between you and the road. Even saying it was "mostly you" is wrong.

Response to dkf (Original post)


(41,166 posts)
12. 'End the out of control welfare state' = Cause UNSPEAKABLE hardship, humiliation and suffering for
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 11:31 AM
Oct 2013

Last edited Tue Oct 8, 2013, 05:40 PM - Edit history (1)

poor, disabled and disadvantaged people.

You may think it is necessary to do so in order to avoid even worse disasters, but at least call it what it is: 'cutting the social safety net' or at least 'austerity' as it's called (and protested) in Europe. The welfare state in America has hardly existed in comparison with most other developed countries, let alone ever been 'out of control'.

In the UK, the moderate left (LibDems) HAVE been compromising with the (moderate, in comparison with your Republicans) right; and the results have been disastrous for the country. And if Tories are bad, teabaggers are worse!

Sometimes it really is unfortunately necessary to negotiate with the hostage-takers to make some temporary concessions to them - though much more usually it ISN'T; but we don't have to accept their views as in any way valid.


(12,977 posts)
13. It's a good list but it doesn't get at the underlying causes
Tue Oct 8, 2013, 02:09 PM
Oct 2013

A few decades back, it used to be said that compared to most of the world, American political parties weren't at all ideological. Instead, they were coalitions of interest groups -- and that was what gave their leaders the freedom to negotiate back and forth and assemble more ad hoc coalitions to pass specific pieces of legislation. That's not the case any more, which is what a lot of Klein's points boil down to.

As far as why it changed ... there are a number of underlying trends, but I suspect the real difference is that the Republican Party no longer serves the interests of anyone except the 1%. That was why it had to stop seeking out the support of a variety of regional and ethnic factions and focus instead on getting voters to vote against their own interests by using ideological appeals like same-sex marriage.

It's also why the GOP regularly slams the Democrats as being a party of "special interests" and as offering voters "goodies" like heath care to buy their votes. The Democrats still do things the old-fashioned way, and the Republicans can't handle that so they try to make it look corrupt.

But the real downside is that the GOP has turned into a party of ideologues, and the American system wasn't built to handle that.

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