Ohio’s Traditional Deer-Gun Hunting Season begins Nov. 27 WWII veteran honored in banner raising ceremony Veteran of three wars honored for volunteer work Charlotte Evans Jason A Barr Why we celebrate Manchester man killed in single-car accident Adams County Election Results – 2017 Hubert Knauff To keep or not to keep Time again for the changing of the seasons November proclaimed as Adoption Recognition and Recruitment Month Local business is seven decades old and counting Local student gets Nashville call Senior Profile: Gabe Grooms Lady Indians fall in districts Quest For The Cup complete for Dragons Meeting a true sports hero WU’s McCarty named District Player of the Year With regional run, Pennywitt completes memorable career West Union eighth grade volleyball finishes as SHAC runner-up Senior Profile: Tray Brand Greyhounds drop home finale, finish at 4-6 Lady Devils fall in district semis Devils go down in district finals Matt Seas headed back to State XC Meet Senior Profile: Charlee Louden Lady Indians ousted in sectional final Lady Devils down Minford 4-1 in district semis North Adams volleyball claims fourth consecutive sectional crown Senior Profile: Brooklyn Howlett Afterschool fun begins at NAES Wearing it pink in October Kenneth L Austin Jay E Minnich Reuben E Hershberger Bobby L Williams 18 years just isn’t long enough Emotional, historic, and victorious Taking action against addiction Utilities commission approves DP&L electric security plan What matters and what doesn’t Oh dear, is that a deer? Junior Gaffin Charlotte J Thatcher Matthew D Miller Megan R Phillips Ralph M Swearingen Linda C Ackley Robert Ralston Shelly Seaman Increased access to treatment, Improving economic opportunity keys to combating Ohio’s Opioid Crisis Seas siblings are again SHAC Cross-Country Champions Lady Hounds cruise to sectional victory Senior Profile: Alyssa Hoskins 101 and another sectional championship Lady Indians claim sectional title North Adams tops Peebles for sectional soccer crown Senior Profile: Shay Boldman 13.5 seconds, heartbreak for West Union PHS JV Volleyball completes unbeaten season On the course that Nicklaus helped design On the ballot: Meigs Township Trustees West Union Christian Church will again be collection center for Operation Christmas Child Peebles voters will choose council members in upcoming election Seven candidates seek seats on ACOVSD school board A time for transformation What will future generations say? Finding all those treasures Janet K Campbell Robert D Hill Lady Devils blank West Union 7-0 in SHAC soccer finale Vikings invade and conquer the Greyhounds Outpouring of community support for local business woman with cancer Manchester mourns teen killed in single-car crash Kylie S Lucas Sharon R Grooms Steven L Wootten Forest J McDaniel Ralph O Grooms Adams County teenager dies in auto accident Charles N Vance Wesley M Baldwin James Kennedy Tom A Mihalovich Brand hat trick leads North Adams past West Union 5-2 in SHAC soccer action Senior Profile: Bryant Lung Lady Hounds pull off thrilling Senior Night win Volleyball milestones continue to pile up at North Adams Banner season for Lady Indians soccer SHAC holds Junior High Volleyball Tournament Tournament match ups set for volleyball and soccer Senior Profile: Morgan Edmisten Hounds dominate, improve to 3-4 Is this not the best time of the year? Volley For The Cure is another big success Getting everything we ask for Oh, that dreaded leaf project Manchester: Adams County’s oldest community looks to the future with hope Congressman visits Manchester’s newest business

We face real challenges to representative democracy

People who care about the United States’ place in the world often fret about challenges to representative democracy from other countries. I’d contend that the more formidable challenge comes not from abroad, but from within.

For starters, it’s hard to make American representative democracy work. Our country is large, growing, and astoundingly diverse by every definition of the term. To govern it, we rely on a bewildering array of branches and units of government, which means that to solve a problem you have to navigate a slow, untidy system.

And that system rests on the consent of a public that often wants mutually contradictory things: to encourage the risk-taking that produces a dynamic economy, for instance, while reining in the private sector’s excesses; or to shrink the deficit, but without cuts in defense spending or entitlements and no additional taxes.

Our challenges come at us with rapidity and mind-boggling complexity. They include racial and class divisions, the social and economic pressures confronting families, a strained public education system, a constant flow of complex foreign and economic policy questions. To deal with them, every level of our system needs to be at the top of its game.

I take heart from the diligence and creativity of many politicians, yet I’m worried that several trends, especially at the federal level, are weakening our ability to get the results we want.

Two of our basic governing institutions, Congress and the presidency, are struggling. Congress has adopted some unfortunate political and procedural habits: it governs by crisis, fails repeatedly to follow time-tested procedures that ensure accountability and fairness, panders to wealthy contributors, and too often erupts in excessive partisanship. There are glimmers that some members are willing to re-learn the legislative arts of negotiation, compromise, and consensus-building, but these need to be front and center, not an occasional hobby: in a government that reflects the American population, Congress cannot function effectively without these skills.

The presidency, too, faces challenges. The executive branch is bloated, has too many decision makers and bases to touch, lacks accountability, and desperately needs better, more effective management.

Moreover, the decades-long march toward increased presidential power at the expense of the legislative branch severely undercuts our constitutional system and raises the question of how far down this road can we go and still have representative democracy. There are valid reasons it has happened, especially because the modern world demands quick, decisive action. But our system functions best when we have a strong president and a strong Congress who can interact, consult, and work together.

We face other challenges as well. Too much money is threatening the core values of representative democracy. And too many Americans have become passive and disengaged from politics and policy; representative democracy is not a spectator sport. While the basics — voting, keeping oneself informed, communicating with officials, getting involved in organizations that promote the causes we believe in, improving our communities — are crucial, they aren’t always enough.

As citizens we also have to learn how to solve problems ourselves. We have to model the behavior we expect from our representatives at every level by ourselves working with all kinds of people, seeking to understand and find common ground with people who disagree with us, learning how to communicate our ideas effectively, and in our search for a remedy, building consensus behind the ideas we’re promoting.

Despite its challenges, our political system forms the core of American strength. It enshrines fundamental power in a body elected by the broad mass of the people, and is based solidly on the participation and consent of the governed. Allowed to work properly, it is the system most likely to produce policy that reflects a consensus among the governed. Above all, it has the capacity to correct itself and move on.

In other words, we don’t need to reinvent our system, but rather use its abundant strengths to find our way through our problems and emerge stronger on the other side.

It is not written in the stars that representative government will always prosper and prevail. It needs the active involvement of all of us, from ordinary voters to the president. Each of us must do our part.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University; Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; and Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Lee Hamilton

Contributing Columnist

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