What would you change about the American political process?

Question: If you could change one thing about the American political process, what would it be?


Dennis Ross: Well I think the one thing I would like to see changed is the kind of poisonous atmosphere – that everything is seen in zero sum terms. We’ve lost kind of the capacity to create areas and incentives that Democrats and Republicans basically can agree on. And everything seems to have fallen victim to kind of polarization.

And I think we have to end polarization. Democrats and Republicans have different philosophies, different identities. That’s fine. That’s part of what debates are about. But there’s a lot of areas where there should be commonalities. And where there are big issues, you ought to be able to forge commonalities.

We ought to be able to afford ________ climate change. We ought to be able to afford _________ Iraq. We ought to be able to afford what will be a common approach on healthcare. These are big priorities where we have to deal with fundamental challenges now to the country. When you’re dealing with fundamental challenges, there ought to be enough common ground that you reach understandings.

We’ve found certainly in the last almost seven years now that the polarization has become so acute that it’s pretty hard to do the kinds of things where otherwise you should be able to find that consensus. And I look at myself, I had senior political appointee positions in Republican and Democratic administrations alike. That’s unthinkable in Washington today. That has to change.

We should be able to go back to the point where you can have people who are seen as being sufficiently professional that are in political appointees regardless of their political identification. And that we’ve lost.


Recorded on: September 12, 2007


Ross mourns an atmosphere so poisonous that Democrats and Republicans can't agree on the basics.

Related Articles
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less