Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth


An excellent piece of journalism. Zakaria tosses the "Rome" analogy aside and instead applies the British Empire at it's zenith in the late 19th century and its subsequent decline. He then goes on to compare and contrast it with today's American neo-empire and generally concludes that the most poignant threat to America's future is two fold:

1. An inability to view the rise of other nations and a shift from unipolar global dynamic (with America at the front) to a multipolar sort as a positive event. Not so much America falling behind as other states catching up.

2. Contrary to the British Empires economically driven downfall, America's worries are driven by it's political failures. A snippet from the article.

As it enters the twenty-first century, the United States is not fundamentally a weak economy or a decadent society. But it has developed a highly dysfunctional politics. What was an antiquated and overly rigid political system to begin with (now about 225 years old) has been captured by money, special interests, a sensationalist media, and ideological attack groups. The result is ceaseless, virulent debate about trivia -- politics as theater -- and very little substance, compromise, or action. A can-do country is now saddled with a do-nothing political process, designed for partisan battle rather than problem solving.
The emphasis is mine and it's emphasized because it has hit the nail on the head. Politics in this country has always had it's superficiality (at least in my lifetime) but never before has it stooped so low into the trivial. I recently highlighted Senator Arlen Specters Don Quixote like behavior regarding an otherwise meaningless football scandal. Or Senator Hillary Clinton lying her ass off. Politics as theater. In effect, "look at me, not the issues." Pander to the masses' appetite for drama. Last snippet:

Those who advocate sensible solutions and compromise legislation find themselves being marginalized by their party's leadership, losing funds from special-interest groups, and being constantly attacked by their "side" on television and radio. The system provides greater incentives to stand firm and go back and tell your team that you refused to bow to the enemy.
Indeed as Americans weave their everyday lives into the existence of massive networks of information the process of campaigning continues to eclipse the task of legislating. Elected legislative governance has devolved to a soft tyranny of keeping one's job over doing one's job.

Anyway, great article.

Photo:nytimes.com

2 comments:

Dan tdaxp said...

Two of my former professors have written a book relating to the last snippet, arguing that American beliefs about government are fundementally incompatible with representative democracy.

subadei said...

I read the teaser at amazon. Sounds like a great read. The term primary loyalty needs a cousin; primary expectation, the most nascent form of people caring "deeply about process" as opposed to politics on a grand scale.