Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Why is Governing No Longer Good Politics: Reflections from a Thousand Years of Public Service

Feb 5, 2021
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Why is Governing No Longer Good Politics:

Reflections from a Thousand Years of Public Service

In a new survey by FixUS, former members of Congress, ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, White House chiefs of staff, and other civil servants share their thoughts

FixUS – an initiative of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget to engage Americans in understanding and healing our nation’s growing divisions – today released a new report in which former elected and appointed officials examine the origins of our hyper-partisanship and suggest measures to move our institutions away from partisan gridlock towards the direction of effective governance.

The new report, Why is Governing No Longer Good Politics: Reflections from a Thousand Years of Public Service, is a survey of former elected and appointed officials representing nearly 1,000 years of public service spanning the presidencies of John F. Kennedy to Donald. J. Trump. The survey asks them to respond to two questions: “Why does it seem that good governing is no longer good politics?” and “What has changed and what can we do about it?” 

Nothing symbolizes the hyper-partisanship gripping our nation better than the dysfunction in Washington,” says Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense and lead contributor to the report. “From inaction on major issues facing the nation to often legislating only in response to self-imposed crises, it seems that good governing today is not as politically advantageous as it once was. This report from FixUS contains important lessons worth heeding, for both policymakers and citizens, if we are to break this destructive cycle and change course.”

Key findings from respondents include addressing the built in incentives that prioritize party loyalty over governing, such as toxic media and social media environments, partisan gerrymandering, and the role of big money in politics. On a personal level, almost all the respondents recognize an obligation for Americans to engage in our representative democracy, and to demand better of our leaders and ourselves.

“Congress faces a daunting range of issues,” said Michael V. Murphy, FixUS Director. “Our representatives face a host of critical issues from addressing the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn, to a range of other known and unforeseen issues in the months and years ahead. For them to do this successfully, we must have an environment that prioritizes policymaking over politics, and incentivizes progress over partisanship. We hope this report will serve as a launching point for a broader conversation on the issues it raises and how meaningful change can be achieved.”

To read the report please visit: https://fixusnow.org/thousand-years-of-service

To learn more about FixUS or become involved, please visit FixUSNow.org

For more information, please contact John Buhl, director of media relations, at buhl@crfb.org