- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

No. The system is not broken.

To the contrary, the system is working pretty much the way it was designed to work.

At issue in Washington is a fundamental difference in what we expect of our government. It is a confrontation that has been obvious to anyone paying attention, and it has been building for decades. On the one hand are those who think the creation of wealth and concurrent freedom are based on the decisions of millions of free individuals, and on the other hand are those who truly believe that wealth, jobs and prosperity are created by the government or its regulations and incentives.


These two philosophies are only marginally compatible. Years of compromise have led to a point at which the believers in big government pretty much achieved the upper hand. The election of Barack Obama, whose life experience involves the private-sector life only negligibly, signaled the beginning of the period of decision. It was no longer possible to delay the inevitable.

The costs of the big paternal government became more than the system as we had known it could withstand. In the words of the old song, “Something’s gotta give.”

When two strongly conflicting views of governance and of ideals clash, resolution will not come easily.

Bipartisanship will not resolve the critical underlying differences, nor will cordiality. This does not mean the combatants cannot be civil, but to believe that there will not be strong words and a serious clash of wills is unrealistic. In fact, nice words, going along to get along and generally avoiding conflict, probably have made reaching an ultimate resolution more difficult as well as more rancorous. In short, cordiality and compromise — instead of facing the problem — have, over the years, only inflamed passions further and, if anything, made the ultimate clash more acrimonious.

It has been said that the parties were always able to agree ultimately to resolve money differences. Why can’t they just do that now? First, those “horse-trading” resolutions of money differences have served ultimately only to make the fiscal problems more serious. (Note: You cannot buy off the tea partyers with new bridges and post offices.)

We cannot this time resolve “money differences” with bipartisanship and kind words because money is the seminal problem. We don’t have any. Now it must be faced, and our unfamiliarity in dealing with fundamental problems has left many policymakers unable to deal with them or at the very least not very good at it.

All of which makes for messy, difficult, emotional conflict and deliberation. That is what we are seeing now.

Our system of government was not designed to facilitate easy decisions in the resolution of critical matters. Monarchies and dictatorships facilitate easy decision-making. Our system is working.

David A. Norcross is chairman of the board of governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association and former Republican National Committee general counsel.