The Civic Sacrament

Today is election day.  Mostly up for grabs are local and state races.  Voting has been called a “civic sacrament.”  The analogy is an imperfect one, and it applies only to democratic systems.  Some say that voting “doesn’t do any good,” which even if it were true is not the point.  We have a vocation of citizenship.  For those of us blessed enough to have been called to citizenship in a country in which we govern ourselves by choosing our own leaders, voting is one of the duties of our vocation.

What to do about gerrymandered elections?

An issue for election day:  One of the problems in our political system today is that Congressional districts have been drawn up to ensure that each one is a “safe seat” for the incumbent and a particular political party.  That means that voters almost never have competitive elections with genuine choices–unless, that is, the incumbent has a primary rival from the same party.  This makes for ideological polarization, say many observers, as well as thwarting the basic processes of democracy. [Read more…]

Millions of health insurance cancellations

Millions of Americans already have individual health insurance plans.  They chose their plans based on the services and coverage they needed or didn’t need and what they could afford.  But now most of those already-insured Americans–maybe as many as 75% of them–are getting cancellation notices.  Their existing policies don’t have all of the mandates required by Obamacare.  So the insurance companies aren’t allowed to offer them.  And the new Obamacare policies are lots more expensive. [Read more…]

Madisonian politics

George Will has found something that President Obama and the Tea Party have in common:  Both disdain Madisonian politics; that is, the checks and balances that require the different factions to compromise with each other, as built into the very structure of Constitutional governance. [Read more…]

Our foreign relations debacle

American citizens in great numbers resented the revelations via Edward Snowden that the NSA was monitoring their e-mails and phone calls.  But the outrage is even greater among our allies, who learned that not only was our government snooping on their citizens, but that we were specifically eavesdropping on as many as 35 government leaders, including German prime minister Angela Merkel.  A number of these countries are planning to take the issue to the UN, and the resentment threatens the negotiations for a free trade agreement with the European Union. [Read more…]

Central planning vs. complex systems

The problems with HealthCare.gov and the Obamacare rollout go beyond the technical glitches, says Michael Gerson.  He draws on economist Friedrich Hayek, who showed why highly complex systems simply cannot be managed by  centralized technocratic planners. [Read more…]


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