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Monday, May 19, 2014

David Brooks, "The Big Debate": Democracy's Demise

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Big Debate" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/opinion/brooks-the-big-debate.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), David Brooks begins by observing that "democratic governments have decayed across the globe." Observing their stagnation, dysfunction, remoteness and lack of productivity, Brooks writes:

"At the national level, American politics has become neurotically democratic. Politicians are campaigning all the time and can scarcely think beyond the news cycle. Legislators are terrified of offending this or that industry lobby, activist group or donor faction. Unrepresentative groups have disproportionate power in primary elections.

The quickest way around all this is to use elite Simpson-Bowles-type commissions to push populist reforms.

The process of change would be unapologetically elitist. Gather small groups of the great and the good together to hammer out bipartisan reforms — on immigration, entitlement reform, a social mobility agenda, etc. — and then rally establishment opinion to browbeat the plans through."

Brooks fails to observe that would-be reformer Barack Obama refused to back Simpson-Bowles (see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbarro/2012/02/27/the-real-reason-obama-wouldnt-embrace-simpson-bowles/).

Also, Brooks fails to observe that America has degenerated into a form of oligarchy in which a majority of the members of Congress are millionaires (see: http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2014/01/10/261398205/majority-in-congress-are-millionaires), and where voters are facing the unseemly choice of having to choose between the Clinton and Bush dynasties in 2016.

In a Times op-ed entitled "Hillary’s Obstacle Course" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/20/opinion/bruni-hillarys-obstacle-course.html?hp&rref=opinion), Frank Bruni writes today of Hillary:

"She’s considered inevitable in part because she’s political royalty, awash in money and celebrity endorsements, but is royalty what an economically frustrated, embittered electorate wants?"

Indeed, democracy has devolved into something grotesque in America and has lost touch with commoners. How best to orchestrate a revival? Sorry, but money and vested interests stand in the way.

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