Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

American Political Decay or Renewal?

The Meaning of the 2016 Election

Two years ago, I argued in these pages that America was suffering from political decay. The country’s constitutional system of checks and balances, combined with partisan polarization and the rise of well-financed interest groups, had combined to yield what I labeled “vetocracy,” a situation in which it was easier to stop government from doing things than it was to use govern­ment to promote the common good. Recurrent budgetary crises, stagnating bureaucracy, and a lack of policy innovation were the hall­marks of a political system in disarray. On the surface, the 2016 presidential election seems to be bearing out this …

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