Sunday, 10 May 2009

Could Politicians Do More?

The quote in yesterday's post "Are the Media to Blame" from Glenn Parker was reproduced in an article by David W Brady and Sean M Theriault ['A Reassessment of Who's to Blame: A Positive Case for the Public Evaluation of Congress' in Hibbing & Theiss-Morse (eds) "What is it about Government that Americans Dislike?]". It's an article worth reading.

They say "we offer several speculative arguments that place the blame of low congressional approval squarely upon the members".

In particular they highlight four practices that members actively engage in that lead to congressional unpopularity -
  1. Members of Congress avoid difficult votes by engaging in questionable legislative procedures. They employ these procedures to circumvent accountability. They give as an example the way congressional pay rises have been dealt with.

  2. Members frequently engage in hyperbolic rhetoric. First they employ quick-fix rhetoric in claiming to have easy solutions to hard problems. Second, and inversely, divergent proposals are not debated meaningfully; rather, the consequences are overblown and exaggerated in hopes of demonizing the proponents and killing the proposals

  3. Members run for Congress by running against it

  4. The public face of Congress distorts the internal workings of the institution. While ideological extremists bash each other on television as well as in newspapers, the moderates are left to negotiate and legislate.

Is the same true of Westminster?

Again your thoughts on these matters are appreciated.