For An Energetic (and Cool) Government
“So part of my job, I think, as president, is to make government cool again.””
President Obama on revitalizing the image of the federal government.
Read more at Fedblog.
I find this statement very important and very true, especially for the vitality of our government, and also as a means to inch our governing system closer and closer to the ideals laid out by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist No. 70, one of the Federalist papers drafted at the birth of this nation. Within this paper, Hamilton, one of our Founding Fathers, laid out factors that would lay the blueprint for an ill executed government. These factors to be fought against included such things as an overwhelmed federal service unable to provide for the demands of the public, an employment process incredibly slow and delay-inducing, and multiple, misaligned (and sometimes contradictory) administrative reforms and agendas. It is clear through evaluation, however, that our federal service of today is demonstrating some of these very features so discouraged by Hamilton:
…the federal service would employ a workforce motivated more by pay, benefits, and security than by the chance to make a difference, help people, and pursue meaningful work…Created to celebrate merit, the civil service system would tolerate favoritism, foment labor-management conflict, stifle whistle-blowing, and deny civil servants the chance to accomplish something worthwhile.
…government would discourage young Americans from imagining the federal service as a career of choice. Although the federal government would be seen as the place to serve the country during times of patriotic need, even its most committed recruits would see nonprofit agencies as the destination of choice for meaningful work. Moreover, instead of acknowledging the changing nature of careers, the federal government would require its employees to enter the system early in their career, advance through the decades, and exit upon retirement.
Most importantly and most relevant to Pres. Obama’s quote, however, is the fact that Hamilton believed that the government required not only a highly energetic service, but also an energetic executive. I find Pres. Obama’s astute acknowledgment and declaration of the need to spark and redirect a new surge of energy, enthusiasm, and interest toward government speaks further to his qualifications for office:
Hamilton believed that energy in the executive was a ‘leading character’ in good government. ‘It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks,’ he wrote in Federalist No. 70; ‘it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy.’
…Although the federal service and faithful execution of the laws were always implied, Hamilton focused on the four ingredients of that provided energy: unity in the executive, duration in office, adequate provision of support, and competent powers.
In order for us to support and boost President Obama’s energy and effectiveness, how about we follow Hamilton’s recipe and supply the key ingredient. Let’s reelect Pres. Obama this November and provide him some longevity/duration in office. :)
Advance Praise of Paul Light and A Government Ill Executed
“A brilliant and insightful analysis and action plan to make our government work. Bravo!”
-Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and President of Miami University
“Paul Light has made a major contribution to rethinking federal bureaucracy at a crucial time in its evolution. With the retirement of the baby boom bureaucrats there will be a greater opportunity to rethink and reshape the federal government than at any time since the New Deal. If it is done with the kind of thoughtfulness Light proposes it could profoundly improve the delivery of government services and the quality of the federal work force.”
-Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House
“Ever since Hurricane Katrina, we have bemoaned the costs of incompetent government. But Paul Light has done much more: He has focused his enormous energies and brilliant mind on exactly how to create a government that works well. That’s why Light’s voice is so important in our national debate, and why this is such an important book. Whatever your idealogy, you need to pay attention to what Light sayas about how to achieve competence and even excellence in government. The next president needs to read this book, and so do the voters who have a right to expect something better in the coming years.”
-E.J. Dionne, Jr., author of “Why Americans Hate Politics and Souled Out”