The American government at every level is failing in its duty to govern. It is not only inefficient, it is ineffective. To govern is to confront issues of the day in the name of protecting and promoting the prosperity of one’s constituents. And more specifically to American government: to protect the rights and freedoms afforded to citizens by the Constitution.
At the time of our nation’s founding, the systems put into place to achieve that mission were sufficient. Governmental processes were intended to be slow through a separation of powers. This was a safeguard against government becoming tyrannical, not to mention government didn’t have to be fast when information only traveled as fast as the fastest horse. These days, however, information is instantaneous, and our government is constantly trying to catch up.
Big Tech — companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook — are all trailblazers in their own right, and their inventions have benefited society. On the flip side, their rapid progress has outrun our slow-by-design government’s ability to regulate them, giving them free reign to do whatever they want. These companies avoid taxes, invade privacy and have been found to be complicit in election manipulation.
If our government cannot protect itself from Big Tech, how can we expect it to protect us? Worryingly, this is just one example where government policy and action is too little, too late.
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In order for American government to live up to its intended purpose, it must become more efficient. Madison itself has been making great efforts to do this. Eric Upchurch, a representative of the City of Madison Task Force on Government Structure said, “There is a major disconnect between the people and government,” and many people don’t have the “time, resources or know-how to voice their opinion.”
By trying to get people more involved in government, the city can better understand the wants and needs of citizens, and with that knowledge do a better job of governing.
Increasing public involvement won’t just make government more representative — if done right, it will make it more effective. The public can already vote, call or write their representative, and even protest — but the public should have increased control over legislation.
Our legislative system is by nature combative — just like a football game, it’s two teams trying to one-up another. But unlike a football game, the main goal is to work together to solve issues facing Americans, and to protect their rights.
Unless a culture of compromise replaces one of opposition, American politics will remain a fight between two parties who take turns forcing their views on the other half of the country. This only creates more polarization and makes compromise harder for no good reason.
Taking away the power of deciding what issues are discussed from politicians and giving that power to the public kills two birds with one stone. Politicians would spend less time bickering and more time focused on solving issues, and the public gets a government that is truly working “for the people, by the people,” as our Founding Fathers intended.
Over time, American government has drifted from that noble ideal. While the public won’t have direct control over parts of legislation any time soon, that doesn’t stop us from working towards a more representative democracy. To make American government great, people need to get involved and politicians must be willing to listen, instead of fighting each other. Only then can our political processes work towards the protection and prosperity of all, more efficiently and effectively.
Harry Quick ([email protected]) is a freshman studying economics.