American government - at all levels - is losing the legitimacy it needs to function. Or, perhaps, some segments of the government have already lost it.
I am far more pessimistic about our political system than most Americans. At the same time, I am very optimistic about the future of our nation. That may seem like an odd combination to some, but I am optimistic because I recognize that Washington, D.C., does not lead the nation.
In recent weeks, I've written about how the "Bootleggers and Baptists" dynamic corrupts regulatory politics. Bruce Yandle developed this concept decades ago. He observed that Prohibition became reality because Baptists wanted people to stop drinking while the ban on legal alcohol put money in the Bootlegger's pockets. The do-gooders succeeded only because the money-grubbers joined their effort.
I recently highlighted an important book that describes how politics really works. "Bootleggers and Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics," by Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle, showed that prohibition became reality because it appeared to satisfy both Baptists and Bootleggers.
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The health care rollout is an enormous political gift that may lead the Republican Party to win control of the Senate in 2014. But, as President Barack Obama's health-care law collapses, the GOP should avoid the temptation to promote its own top-down solution as an alternative.
Americans are pragmatic, not ideological.
Washington's political class fundamentally misunderstands the role of politics and government in American society. They act as if government is the central force in American life and that its decisions guide the course of the nation. In historical reality, societal trends embrace new technology and the deep currents of public opinion lead the way. Government follows along a decade or two behind.
Many news stories have noted the importance of getting young, healthy people to sign up for insurance on the exchanges created by President Obama's health care law. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein reported that the White House considers this the single most important factor in making the law work.
Many reporters caught up in the bizarre world of official Washington have written extensively on political tactics and implications of the so-called government shutdown and disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Typical was a New York Times headline that blared ''Republicans, Sensing Weakness in Health Law Rollout, Switch Tactics.''
Shortly after the end of World War II, a pair of allergists gave some medication to a patient suffering from hives. Surprisingly, the patient reported her lifelong battle with carsickness had disappeared. After follow-up testing, Dramamine quickly became standard issue for fighting motion sickness.
Not long ago, the conventional wisdom in official Washington held that the so-called sequester spending cuts would be a disaster for the Republican Party. People were expected to rise up in vehement protest once the "cuts" went into effect.
The debate in Washington this week was allegedly about the president's health care law, but it quickly became all about Sen. Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican objected to the law by speaking on the Senate floor for 21 straight hours. The effort made him a hero to some, a fool to others, and it ultimately had no legislative impact.
It's become common over the past year or two to note how well Wall Street is doing while Main Street is still struggling.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an enabler as "one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior." Enablers do so "by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior."
Each of Newton's two games this season have been decided by late scores.
Official Washington is always a decade or two behind the American people. That was true in 1963 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream for a better America. It's also true today.
You might expect a story about wine, The Washington Post, Twitter and polling to be about the lifestyle of the nation's political elite. But this one is about the digital threat to America's political class.
Americans are rightly upset with political leaders who are more interested in partisan politics and scoring ideological points than in serving their country.
One of the sure signs that political activists have too much time on their hands is all the chatter about who will win the 2016 presidential nominations.