“Practicality may be America’s core virtue. But not in Washington.” So writes the Common Good founder in his latest deconstruction of American politics.
For more than two decades, Howard (The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government, 2014, etc.) has offered viable solutions for more effective democracy, and his latest book is right in line with his efforts to invoke long-overdue change in our stagnant, dysfunctional political culture. “America needs a governing framework that reconnects real people with actual results,” he writes. Though there are countless calls for Washington to produce more laws and better rules, this only complicates an already dense morass of legislative overkill. “Government’s abject failure to make practical choices is not a matter of dispute,” writes Howard, continuing, “Republicans call for deregulation. Democrats call for more regulation and more funding. Meanwhile the actual cause of the failure, the inability to be sensible in actual situations, is demonstrated to Americans on a daily basis.” But mere tweaks won’t be sufficient; the government needs an overhaul. Wishful thinking? Not according to Howard. Citing everyone from Alexander Hamilton and James Madison to Winston Churchill, Tocqueville, and Studs Terkel, the author optimistically lays out a no-nonsense playbook for sustainable government and an American future driven by accountability and personal and political responsibility. However, this will only occur if the people demand an overhaul and if leaders are willing to initiate it. Conditioned to run things by the book, officials are now “disempowered from doing what they know is right.” The answer isn’t revolutionary, writes the author, but once officials receive more authority to regulate, voters will have to be ever more vigilant and civically active. “Our fifty-year vacation from active democracy has come to an end,” he writes. “No more reclining in the Barcalounger and griping at the television.”
With provocative arguments and convincing solutions, Howard offers a fresh, nonpartisan approach that will appeal to anyone frustrated with government’s ongoing failures.