Democracy Is Dead, Welcome to 'Vetocracy'
Thomas Friedman says special interests rule because government can't act
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Apr 22, 2012 5:21 PM CDT
The Capitol Building is seen the night of April 7, 2011, at a time when lawmakers were frantically negotiating to avoid a government shutdown.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Newser) – The US isn't a democracy anymore. It's a "vetocracy," with a system designed to prevent anyone from doing much of anything, Thomas Friedman argues in the New York Times. The constitution's system of checks and balances "assumes—indeed requires—a certain minimum level of cooperation on major issues," he observes. But today's America is distressingly polarized, and lawmakers' every move is broadcast online or on cable news, "making back-room deals less possible and public posturing the 24/7 norm."

That's especially problematic because new roadblocks, like the Senate's increasingly routine use of the filibuster, have rendered even united majorities impotent. In vetocracies like ours, special interests "can, like a multi-limbed octopus, choke the life out of a political system." We need to clear out the rules holding the majority back and preventing us from making bold decisions. "I know what you're thinking: 'That will never happen.' And do you know what I'm thinking? 'Then we will never be a great country again.'"

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Apr 23, 2012 8:27 PM CDT
sad but true!
Apr 23, 2012 9:12 AM CDT
We need our elected officials to govern and stop pandering to special interest by taking away the money. Congressmen and all politicians in general should make the average lower middle to middle class income while they serve. They should be required to live and work out of the worst nieghborhodd in their district and their kids should have to attend the worst school in their district and they should not be allowed to trade on the stock market for 5 years after they leave office. Lobbying becomes illegal. That way we get people who want to serve and lead there country not just make as much as they can from billionaire donors. If we do not remove the money the people will never be heard.
Apr 23, 2012 7:31 AM CDT
I have never experienced a more divided America. For this we can thank Team Obama. This is the hope & Change he promised. How do you like it?