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David Gergen on American politics

David Gergen has been adviser to four U.S. presidents, and recently, he had this to say about the state of politics in America (in telling his relatives):

I try to tell them that the United States is going through a rough patch: the rise of lots of problems that we have allowed to fester over the years now coming to a head just when our politics are polarized, poisoned and paralyzed. Moreover, there is almost no one in high places who commands the full trust of the country — from the White House to Wall Street, from Congress to the media.

Polarization, partisanship, and paralysis must stop. And I totally agree – it will take someone who commands the full trust of the country. Otherwise I fear the country inching towards something similar to what happened in an India parliament not too long ago – eventually leading to a madman taking over (because the madman will have the preconditions to manufacture total trust). That is what history has taught us.

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  1. Silentvoice
    August 3rd, 2011 at 01:55 | #1

    India might not be such a great example since the level of corruption and criminality is very high (many of their representatives have criminal records). The US is not anywhere near that condition, not in modern times anyway.

  2. raventhorn2000
    August 3rd, 2011 at 10:58 | #2

    I think the problem with many “democracies” is precisely that People are too empowered, and too involved in politics.

    While I think every one would agree that a good government should be ultimately accountable to its people, there is lacking of self-restraint in the masses. When the masses get power and influence, they invariably abuse it.

    The proper analogy I would draw is that the enlightened attitude of “laissez faire” applies not only to government leaving businesses/private parties alone to do their best, but also applies to in the reverse direction, where the businesses/private parties leave the government/politicians alone to make complex determinations of policies.

    If we say the government cannot be efficient in top-down micromanagement of businesses, then why do some people insist that the common people can efficiently manage /bog down every political issue? Or that businesses should have heavy financial/media influences over politics??

    I think “Democracies” are too exposed, and too open to influences from private parties/businesses. It cannot possibly be efficient.

    Would a business open its books and emails to its stock holders, and talk about every specific business decision?? Of course not, it would generally open up only small amount of financial statements for examination, to ensure some accountability, but not enough to allow micromanagement from outside.

    I think Americans (and other Democracy subscribers) should wake up to the true essence of laissez faire, that “Leave it alone” runs in 2 directions!!

  3. colin
    August 3rd, 2011 at 13:48 | #3

    Pure democracy is a worthy ideal to strive for, but proponents of democracy and critics of China need to understand that not every solution fits every situation. Heck, even the US, the champion of democracy via rhetoric or guns muzzle, is far from an ideal implementation of democracy. The more the west understands this and takes a humbler approach towards China, the better and safer the world will be.

  4. August 4th, 2011 at 06:42 | #4

    Pure democracy has been tried in Greece, and failed. It became an Empire under Alexander the Great, and sought power by military conquest.

    I think my idea of “2-way laissez faire” system should be the model of Republics, and fits well with the Confucian notion of system of mutual respect and stability between the ruler and the subject.

  5. pug_ster
    August 4th, 2011 at 09:16 | #5


    The problem not democracy, but what democracy has changed into. In the US, it is no longer called a democracy, but a plutocracy. Today, there’s some mystery firm that gave 1 million Mitt Romney and then that mystery firm dissolves.

    I don’t know if anybody has watched the movie called RoboCop. I’m not talking movie itself but rather the setting of Detroit where the company OCP has essentially controlled the government. Since the Supreme court allowed the corporations to act as an entity to allow them to fund politicians as they wish, the tea party was created as a result. I would not be surprised where most of the government get privatized into the corporations and we will be like Detroit in the Robocop movie.

  6. August 4th, 2011 at 11:10 | #6


    what democracy has changed into was rather predictable. Mob rule by the people turns into mob rule by the elites. That pattern has repeated in history many many times.

  7. Wahaha
    August 6th, 2011 at 16:07 | #7


    When it is about the society of human beings, anything”pure” is not worth of striving for.(see my “yin, yang and political system”.)

    Like freedom, there is no pure freedom. When we argue with westerners, they often proudly claimed “we are free, you are not.” yes, they were correct, they have lot more political freedom, but they had been brainwashed to believe they get their “free” for free.

    This issue is covered if government has tons of money or they can borrow money, but when government doesnt have money, the issue will surface. The poorer the country(govenrment) is, the higher price they will pay for the “free”.

    How many people are willing to scrafice their retirement money for this “free” ?

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