DISCLAIMER: I do not attempt to be polite or partisan in my articles, merely truthful. If you are a partisan and believe that the letter after the name of a politician is more important then their policies, I suggest that you stop reading and leave this site immediately--there is nothing here for you.

Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Politics V. Policy

In recent years the political climate has been more akin to a spectator sport than a legitimate method of instituting good policy. People are more interested in sound bites and political propaganda than the actual policy which is going to be passed and the media has been going right along. Tabloid politics such as the Weiner scandal and the antics of the Palins sells better than less interesting things; things like pointing out that the rich are robbing us blind and then using our own money to buy our politicians.

Lets face it, watching dumb people make fools of themselves is good TV (See: reality/game shows, sitcoms, etc), but focusing all political media on the next ignorant thing to pop out of the mouth of  Bachmann/Palin/Perry/<enter right wing tea partier> to the exclusion of actual news will be the death sentence of our democracy. Politics is not a reality show, and at some point we will need to actually discuss policy, rather that the antics of the political personalities.

In political science there are two major components to the creation and implementation of public policy: Politics and Policy. The policy component is the substantive policy decisions that are eventually made into a bill. Policy has no partisan gamesmanship, only competing ideas as to what the most effective ways to bring about the best results are. The political component of public policy is the political games that must be played in order to garner support, negotiate, and deal in order to get a policy agenda passed. In many ways the politics of the legislature is disconnected from the actual policy outcomes because it doesn't matter how good the policy actually is just as long as it can be passed.

Theoretically, good policy should be accompanied by good politics and the best ideas will win out, but in reality this system works just about as well as an unregulated free market. The right wing of the country has truly awful policy, ranging from the unconstitutional (abortion/anti-immigration legislation), to the purely fantastical (trickle down economics/war on science), but they are amazing at politics. To give credit where credit is due, the Republicans have not only dominated the political agenda but convinced large numbers of ignorant people to vote entirely against their interests even in the face of evidence. The Democrats propose policy that would be beneficial to most of the country, whether by reducing pollution or strengthening the social safety net, but they (Obama most of all) are unable to advocate their policy to the people. In a world dominated by the fact-free soundbite the Republicans have completely shut out the Democrats and then used the worsening conditions to improve their own political prospects.

Republican politics has overshadowed policy to the point where the president's job proposal (which is reasonable by any standard) is being blocked by the house at the same time that they are threatening another government shutdown over giving aid to disaster victims. The Republicans are blocking simply everything in order to hurt the country and defeat Obama. Due to the Republican ability to sell even the most insane and self-destructive policy to the average voter (read: political lemming), they can completely ignore policy and focus entirely on getting elected. To be fair, the Republican viewpoint is and always has been that of inaction. Reducing what the government does for its people, reducing regulations, and cutting taxes are all Republican policies that stress the government not actually working; in this way the Republican focus on politics over policy makes sense because if you don't believe in government actually doing anything, then it is a lot easier to be a politician than if you actually had to make working programs.

The Democrats have a lot going for them: economics, science, and facts are three examples of things that support Democratic policy far more than Republican policy. Unfortunately, the Democrats are handicapped by the fact that they actually care about improving the government and the lives of the "little people" (Read: us 99%), and the fact that the Democrats are abysmal at selling their policy. Think about the Obamacare fight just two years ago: The Democrats couldn't sell the idea of giving access to health insurance to everybody at lower prices (Public option), nor could they make their opponents look bad for opposing outlawing the pre-existing condition clauses in health care. Some Democrats can fight politically (Frank, Weiner, Warren, Sanders, etc.) but a great majority of Democrats are completely unable to advocate for their positions on the same level as the Republicans.

In a Democracy the job of politicians is to advocate for their constituents and if they do a good job they often get reelected. We are in a system where the politicians sell out their constituents to the interests and the rich in order to get re-elected.

No comments:

Post a Comment