The reason I think the American political system is broken is its failure to deal with the fundamental fiscal and economic problems facing the nation. That’s the symptom. So what are the causes?
Health care costs are a big part of the problem. This has been known for at least thirty years. I gave an oral report to a business school class about a long essay by Peter Peterson having to do with long-term deficits in Social Security and Medicare in 1982 or so. Now we also have global warming to deal with, as well as large and growing imbalances in the distribution of wealth and income and stagnating wages, and all of this quite apart from the acute financial crisis.
One way of looking at things is that the electorate wants a free lunch and thinks that it is available. So the electorate makes things impossible for elected officials. Another way of looking at things is to say that in a republic things should not work that way, that the elected officials are supposed to be an elite that should look out for the nation and educate the electorate, if it needs educating (and there can be no doubt whatever that it does).
I don’t think one needs much more evidence than the existence of Sarah Palin to prove that the republic is deeply sick. That some people who pretend to be serious (e.g. William Kristol) defend her only serves to make the point more starkly. The only thing worse than the attempt by elitists to plan society rationally is to leave things to the irrational crowd and utter morons like Palin, in the incredibly stupid hope or expectation that no government is better than ill conceived government. The only place where there is a wondrous self-regulating organism of human beings is on Fantasy Island.