Is the American political system broken?

Hamilton: I don’t like the way we run campaigns in this country particularly. I don’t think we’re tough enough on the candidates. And I mean by that I don’t think we press them hard enough. George Bush came into office as President of the United States, and very few Americans had any idea at all of what his foreign policy would be. I’m not sure he did. Bill Clinton did the same thing in 1992. “It’s the economy, stupid” was the theme of the campaign. And I remember talking to him when he was President Elect, and he said, “Nobody asked me in the campaign much about foreign policy.” In this area, which I focused on to some degree, we just don’t press them hard enough.

When Tony Blair was running for re-election as Prime Minister, he would go into every little town and village of the United Kingdom . . . go in in the morning, and the first thing he would do is he would have a news conference with the local press, and he would have to answer every question imaginable on how to solve the Middle East, and how to get water delivered . . . ______ water delivered in that community. We don’t have that kind of mechanism yet. And we’ve got to try to develop a better mechanism for our candidates so we learn more about them. And then once they are elected, I’m not at all satisfied with the accountability for those officials. Let’s take the president. It’s very difficult to hold the President of the United States accountable. The news conference has become a farce – much controlled by the White House. He knows exactly who he’s going to call on before he goes into that press conference. Very, very rarely gets a question that is not anticipated. There is no way you can drill, if you would, a president like the U.K. does a Prime Minister. I’m not for the parliamentary system, but I see some advantages in the way they do that. So I think we have to strengthen the mechanisms for accountability in our system. And I think it’s a major challenge for us in the years ahead.

There are plenty of things wrong with this system; but the very worst thing you can do is throw up your hands and walk away from it. That almost assures that the system gets worse. So I think all you can do in this circumstance as a person, as an individual, is to try. Now look. Most of us are not gonna have the chance to sit down and make peace in the world, and very few of us are gonna be able to solve the Social Security system in the United States. What you can do is make your own neighborhood and your own community better.

So I had a mother come to me who had a 15-year old daughter killed at a railroad crossing because there was no flashing light there – signal. She went to work on that in my state, and it became a crusade for her to get a flashing railroad signal at every crossing – or dangerous crossing at least – in the state. That’s the kind of thing that has to be done. You do not find cynicism among people who are involved in their communities. I don’t care what it is. You may think the school board’s not functioning well. You may think there ought to be a traffic light at a given intersection. You may think that the industries in the community are polluted. On and on and on with all of the problems we have in the community. The important thing is not to rant and rave against the politicians in Washington who can’t get the job done, although that may be the fact. The important thing is to try to solve problems where you can, to do it constructively in your community, in your neighborhood. And of course the most important obligation of all, in your family.

Recorded on: 7/5/07

 

 

Lee Hamilton has a bone to pick with how our campaigns are run, and with how easy we are on our politicians.

Scientists claim the Bible is written in code that predicts future events

The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.

Michael Drosnin
Surprising Science
  • Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
  • The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
  • Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
Keep reading Show less

The mystery of Jesus’ brother gets even weirder

The controversy over whether Jesus had any siblings is reignited after an amazing new discovery of an ancient text.

Jesus and James. Unknown painter. Possibly 14th century.
Politics & Current Affairs
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less