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System check

Our form of government isn't broken-just ignored

Issue: "Demsnami," Nov. 4, 2006

Of all the pre-election polls, punditry, analysis and forecasts, one stands out. It is a new CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation that found an overwhelming number of Americans (78 percent) believes "our system of government is broken."

It isn't actually our "system" that is broken. The Constitution established an excellent system from which contemporary leaders regularly seem to depart. The Founders gave us the parchment equivalent of a GPS system that, if followed, gets us where we ought to go, but if ignored, causes us to become lost.

Recently, members of both parties have asked government to do for them what they should first be doing for themselves. And instead of telling people about self-sufficiency, government has subsidized and encouraged self-indulgence. Instead of government as a last resort, too many turn to government as a first resource. Government was not designed to carry the burdens placed on it by the public, lawyers, and lobbyists.

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The Founders created a system of limited government. It is not functioning like one today because we now view government as unlimited. For many, faith in government is now stronger than faith in God, in practice, if not in theory. At least God tells us He loves us. Government never can.

Our faith in government to rid the world of totalitarian regimes, while at the same time caring for children and grandparents whose welfare should be the first responsibility of their families, was always destined to disappoint. Democrats tell us if we return them to power things will be better. No they won't, because the problem isn't which party has a majority. It is far deeper than that.

In his book, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, writes that expanding the number of congressional committees and subcommittees (which began in 1974) and opening up the system to more public access had a downside. The post-Watergate reforms were meant to "make Congress more open and responsive," writes Zakaria. "And so it has become-to money, lobbyists, and special interests."

Government is like Humpty Dumpty. Unless there is real reform, all the Democratic horses, just like all the Republican horses, won't be able to put government back together again.

-© 2006 Tribune Media Service, Inc.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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