Is the American political system broken?

Dov Zakheim: Well, I would hope the values don’t change. I think we have to be very careful how we react to terrorism. And there’s a huge debate about, you know, to what extent our freedom should be restricted or not. And you know, I think most Americans would agree that some restriction is important. It’s just like walking through that security line at the airport. But there is a line to be drawn, and we have to be careful of that. I think another area that we have to be careful of, frankly, is the balance of power in our government. I believe that the Congress is a very, very important and equal partner with the administration – any administration – and I was on both sides. And I know very well both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, as it were. And I know very well that sometimes bureaucracy views Congress as a greater enemy than anybody else. During the Cold War, they certainly feared Congress more than they did the Soviets. We have to recognize that Congress is an equal partner. And it’s interesting that however low the president’s popularity is, Congress is even lower. Which tells me that the right people aren’t running for Congress. That they’re being turned off by Congress. Look at all the retirements of some very, very good people over the last decade or so who just said, “Well this isn’t for me anymore.” Now that’s not good for this country. Now I think unless people feel that public service is a good thing, we’re gonna have a problem. And that probably worries me more than anything else.

Recorded on: 7/2/07



Zakheim talks about the changing values in America and the shifting balance of power in government.

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