The simple fact of the matter is that the American public has come to expect the Federal Government to solve all of life’s intricate problems. We expect government to end poverty, create employment, prevent us from eating unhealthy foods, provide us healthcare, ensure us a retirement, and lower the average temperature of an entire planet. Many of these issues are not new. Some have plagued civilized society since its inception. After 70 years since the New Deal legislation of FDR and 40 years after LBJ’s Great Society, what does our society have to show for all these issues we hold so dear? All the initiatives we’ve spent so much tax money to implement? Is it not clear that the federal government is only too inept, unprincipled, or unqualified to solve any one of thousands of social issues? If you do not believe me, simply look back at the abbreviated list of issues I wrote above and think of the nearly limitless government programs that exist already to combat them. Are we any better off?
The reason for the failure of the federal government and the multiplicity of issues is the fact that more and more we stop trying to solve these problems as a society. Instead, we would prefer to put the responsibility in the hands of an institution without conscience, mind or compassion. The truth of the matter is that there are few circumstances that can be solved by government and many that can be solved by community involvement.
Take the “no child left behind” law for an example. What is really going to help children to excel in their education; creating rigid tests and strict benchmarks for school administrations to pressure teachers to meet? Or perhaps a parent or respected community leader reaching out to children, encouraging education, and providing a role model. Odds are if you are an educated person, there is someone that inspired you in your education, but I guarantee that no one would say their inspiration was a law passed by congress or speech delivered by a politician.
Polarization in today’s politics really translates into frustration that the government is not focusing on the issues we feel need to be solved. If people are truly so passionate about the issues they believe, then I ask, what are you waiting for? You do not need a law to end abortion, go counsel young pregnant woman. You do not need a law to end pollution, go help clean up the roads, start a car pool, and be a role model for your community.
The truth of the matter is that we need to stop looking at the federal government as an entity that can save us from ourselves. We must realize that government is an entity and not a person. This being the case, government cannot inspire or show compassion. These are essential elements in fostering changing behavior.