America's Public Problem

04/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • D. Brad Wright Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa

I've been doing a fair amount of writing lately that gets at the point that Americans are poorly informed about substantive issues in politics and that further laments the lameness of our political institutions. I don't like to write too much about such negative things, because it tends to bring me down and piss me off at the same time. So I'm not writing anything more on it for a bit, but I am giving you a few fun -- and well-written -- things to read. Is it an echo chamber? Perhaps. But I like the sound my thoughts make when they bounce off of smart people.

The first is Jacob Weisberg's piece that explains how our wishy-washy on-demand public attitudes are to blame for the lack of progress we're seeing in Washington. He nails it.

So does James Surowiecki who has pretty much the same thing to say about the absurdity of populism when the populace doesn't really know what it wants.

Ben McGrath will get you all caught up on the rise of the Tea Party Movement, which seems to be pushing for Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012, and to which my only response is "for president of what?!" Then again, after watching the commercials during the Super Bowl, maybe we don't deserve anything better than that.

And this is where it gets troubling. President Obama is planning to have a bipartisan summit on health care on February 25th. The idea is simple: bring everyone together -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- and carefully present all the ideas. Make the meeting transparent and the public will reach its own conclusions on the best way forward. Then, whatever Congress decides to do, the people will be in a well-informed position to hold them accountable. Oh, how I wish our politicians or our citizens were that rational.

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