Barack Obama’s election as president in 2008 generated widespread hope that the United States was entering a new era whereby government, in a reversal of Ronald Reagan’s famous dictum, would be the solution to the nation’s manifold problems amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The Obama election slogan of “Yes We Can” seemed to voice a hope that new leadership would put right what had gone wrong with America. Anticipating a new era of government activism, some commentators read the death rites on “The Age of Reagan,” the post-1980 anti-statist trend of American politics. Within a short time, however, “Yes We Can” gave way to “No We Can’t,” as America’s government became enmeshed in gridlock and political polarization.
The contributors to Broken Government? add their voices to the debate on whether American government truly is broken and, if so, what can be done to fix it.
Contents 1. Introduction: Is American Government Broken? 2. “Hail Gridlock”? 3. What’s Wrong with Congress and What Should Be Done About It? 4. Singularity, Separation, and Sharing 5. Tenure Reform and Presidential Power 6. The Politics of the U.S. Budget 7. Losing Voice, Losing Trust 8. Two Years of Achievement and Strife: The Democrats and the Obama Presidency, 2009–2010 9. The Rise of the Tea Party Movement and American Governance