There's an odd sort of symmetry in my classes this week. In my Western Civilization class, I'm discussing with my students how Rome developed the first republican form of government. In my American History class, the discussion centers around the move to replace the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution.
Which makes it particularly fascinating that I just came across an article online titled "Kludgeocracy in America." You can check it out at www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/kludgeocracy-in-america. Briefly, this article is about our charming national habit of settling for a "muddling through" approach to problems rather than enduring the cost of honest debates and decisions about national policies.
It's my personal thesis that we (as a nation) do this because we've gotten so accustomed to the idea that we must find solutions to national problems that can command the requisite amount of public support while not offending anyone powerful or influential. While we've endured one national trauma (9/11), two seemingly endless wars, and one national financial fiasco in the last decade and a half, we haven't gotten the sort of swift kick in the seat of the pants that may cause us to change our thinking.
While it's possible to nitpick some of the author's points, I have the uncomfortable feeling that this article comes painfully close to the truth. Why do we subject ourselves to such prolonged ineffectuality in our national business? If I could answer that question, perhaps I could also explain why intelligent people ignore the condition of their teeth until they require a root canal. Right now I'm baffled.