Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Gates Sees Gridlock

As part of the Desert Town Hall lecture series, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates enlightened audience members through identifying our nation’s increasingly polarized political climate as a “key threat” to the well being of our nation’s future. “We have lost the ability to execute even the most basic functions of government, much less solve the most difficult and divisive problems facing our country,” said Gates. The polarization in our governing body stems from our representatives’ inability to put aside short-term partisan gain and ideological advancements in favor of the long term benefit of America. Ultimately, he whittles down the seemingly complex issue as merely “an unwillingness to compromise.”

Gates is a seasoned political official with noteworthy exposure to the inner workings of our government. With this problem so glaring, how do we fix it? Gates strives for a complete overhaul of the system flanked “by taking redistricting out of the hands of the state legislature.”

With much of our class discussing centering on the immediate and primary effects of political gridlock, I found it especially interesting to find an article focusing on how the trickle-down effect of gridlock reaches periphery arenas of government, such as the U.S. military. Gates describes a congressional culture that is mired by self-interest, pursuit of personal agenda, and incompatibility. However, with the current structures of government (i.e. elected officials, advantages of incumbency, careerism, and redistricting, among others), it seems that our government has fostered an environment in Congress conducive to rampant gridlock.

Can a problem so entrenched in our political system ever be remedied? Would those in power ever be inclined to overhaul the system to their disadvantage? Not only can we be skeptical in the abilities of our government, but also in the fact that the system is highly unlikely to change.

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