There’s so much more the government could do if only it wasn’t for this stupid democracy stuff.
Echoing the laments of pundits like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood argued Saturday that China outpaces the United States in building major transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail because of its authoritarian system and because the Chinese don’t have the Republican Party holding up progress.
“The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million,” LaHood said in a short interview with The Cable on the sidelines of the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival on June 30. “In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money, and do it. We don’t do it that way in America.” …
“Two years ago, between 50 to 60 Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives to come to Washington to do nothing, and that’s what they’ve done and they’ve stopped any progress. Those people don’t have any vision about what the government can do. That’s been a real inhibitor in our ability to think outside the box and think big,” he said.
Our government is one of distributed powers. Within the federal government powers are separated into three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial. Nationally power is distributed even further, to the 50 sovereign states, and from their broken down further to local governments. This isn’t the result of circumstance or accident. Our founders, who knew all too well what it was like to be governed by an autonomous tyrant, were opposed to the idea of consolidating too much power with any one individual or committee.
They wanted a government that could act when necessary, but one in which action required plenty of debate and broad consensus. “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” reads the Declaration of Independence.
Dictators, monarchs and the powerful committees in authoritarian states like China do not govern with the consent of the people. That’s why these sort of rulers can act quickly and efficiently. The don’t need the consent of the governed. The people and their myriad of opinions can be steamrolled.
I’d rather have a polarized, brawling, slow-moving sort of democracy than the swift, efficient maneuvering of autocrats.