Television is a difference maker in American politics. Reading about acts of incivility in a newspaper -- and even hearing rants on the radio -- do not cause nearly as much physiological arousal as do the close-up facial expressions and tone of voice cues on shout shows.
The negotiations over Cromnibus show why Americans don't trust the government in Washington. While no sensible citizen wants the Federal government to shut down, most of us are sick of special-interest giveaways. Someone has to stop them.
The Johnson administration was looking for a pretext to escalate the war. "We don't know what happened," National Security Adviser Walter W. Rostow told the president after Congress passed the resolution, "but it had the desired result."
As more of our best and brightest are lured into the private sector, many into lucrative but socially unproductive jobs, we reduce the prestige and desirability of government service. This could have devastating effects for the future.
Advocates of gun control need to talk not just about gun violence but about trusting government. There may not be enough support for controlling guns until more people are convinced that their government is under control.
The Weapon of Mass Cynicism has convinced most Americans they can't rely on government to help with anything. But if we can't trust government at a time like this, whom can we trust? Corporations? Wall Street? Warren Buffett? Or is each of us now simply on our own?
As history shows, any small, short-term budgetary gains from work force cutbacks are likely to be offset by serious regulatory missteps, more after-the-fact finger-pointing and a continuation of the cycle of failure and mistrust.
We need to reconnect Americans to their government. People need to better understand that public servants are their friends and neighbors who are helping address our collective challenges here and abroad.