The United States government under Republican leadership is seeking to pass health insurance reform, which will impact one-sixth of the US economy, dismantle government through crippling budgetary cuts, slash taxes for wealthy special interests, and expand American military intervention in the Middle East, along with a whole host of other partisan policy changes. There is nothing inherently improper about the Republican agenda as long as it is enacted with the input and majority consensus of the American People. The problem is that Republicans are not embracing transparency, they are not allowing for robust public debate, and they are not trying to address the concerns and interests of all Americans.
The role of modern government is to properly address and balance the interests of all the People(s) of a nation. This requires the People have effective representation of their views and interests in government. It also requires a culture of transparency where public officials understand even the deepest of government secrets will eventually be revealed to the public. When temporary obscurity is needed, good faith efforts, which actually reflect national interests, are essential to prove the trustworthiness of public officials. Government needs the People to trust government and the People need to be able to trust government.
Unfortunately, the need to trust government is too often misaligned with the reality that government cannot be trusted. Governments are big machines with numerous parts, so no one can expect all public officials to be trustworthy. The most harmful aspect of dysfunctional government is, however, the culture that rationalizes dishonesty and misdoings in the pursuit alleged “national interests.” The only way to overcome this culture is to change the culture in government. Cultural changes, however, require intense and prolonged campaigns of social, e.g. political, pressure that target the dishonesty and misdoings of all political figures on both sides of the aisle.
A major hurdle to change is the apparent immunity the power elites of the political industry use to shirk the consequences of their wrongs and overindulge the inherent privileges of their positions at the expense of the many. Traditional governments existed, because they had the might and legitimacy of legacies to rule over their territories. Within their territories, people were permitted to live so long as it served the interests of the powerful. When the US was founded, it changed the role of government. Unfortunately, this does not mean those who find themselves in positions of privilege and leadership reject traditional views on power that benefit them, thus any effort to change the culture of the political elites must come from the populations they govern.
Through writings, speeches, and demonstrations, Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. championed the need for democratic representation and more responsive governance. Instead of resorting to violence in their pursue of the interests of blacks, disenfranchised workers, and women, the Civil Rights movement used peaceful means to demand government protect the freedoms and rights of all. In relying on civil disobedience and actionable demands, even in the face of violence, the Civil Rights Movement was able to successfully lobby government in service of the disenfranchised. The Civil Rights Movement made government more responsive to the needs of under-represented Americans.
In the Twentieth Century, the Civil Rights Movement focused heavily on racial and gender disparity. Although a tedious process rot with blockades and missteps, straightforward solutions eventually presented themselves, including meaningful, appropriate legislative actions in response to the expressed demands of activists. Consequently, the Civil Rights Movement largely succeeded, thus producing an ideological shift that no longer made it acceptable to value someone based solely on an innate characteristic or a single aspect of a person’s character. Today, a new Civil Rights Movement, which focuses on reviving democratic representation and responsive governance for all, is very much needed.
To that end, defining proper governance with limits on government is essential in order to prevent government overreach and oppression. In many respects, proper governance is always about achieving balance between anarchy and tyranny. No government will ever reach a perfect balance all the time while no government will sustain the necessary balance forever. What allows government to step back from oppressive actions and/or overcome a failure to address an issue is responsiveness. In a democratic system like that of the US, political representation is supposed to ensure the interests of citizens are addressed, but a lack of responsiveness short-circuits the democratic process and undercuts proper governance.
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