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“A Failure of Politics” 2–designing a system to ensure failure

As a follow up to my ‘Failure of Politics’ post, here is succinct piece from Francis Fukuyama, Stanford Senior Fellow.  In particular this paragraph caught my eye.  We often hear of the divisions of power amongst the various branches, and the immobilising effect of lobbying in US politics.  However this was a new one to me, that any of the 100 Senators can place anonymous holds on work proceeding for entirely selfish purposes. 

Talk about designing a political system to fail!

Oh for a democratic dictatorship and not a vetocracy | – Francis Fukuyama

In addition to the checks and balances mandated by the constitution, Congress has added a host of further opportunities for legislators to use their veto power to blackmail the system, such as the anonymous holds that any of 100 senators may place on executive branch appointments. A particularly egregious example of this is taking place today. The Obama administration has wanted to appoint Michael McFaul ambassador to Russia, but the foreign relations committee has put off action indefinitely due to the objections of certain unnamed Republican senators. Mr McFaul – formerly a professor at Stanford (and also a longtime friend) – has been senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council for the past three years and is widely regarded even by the Republicans as well qualified for the job. Foreign Policy magazine has reported that one of the holds is due to a senator wanting the federal government to build a facility in his state. As a result, the US may not have an ambassador in place in Moscow next March as the Russians vote for a new president.

Written by Colin Henderson

November 22, 2011 at 15:59

Posted in Uncategorized

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