Common Good Proposes A New Governing Philosophy

Posted by on January 04, 2018 at 12:23 PM

By Josh Ferguson, Social Strategy & Content Manager, Common Good

Americans of all political stripes are frustrated. Over 70% are not satisfied with the way the U.S. is governed. Congress’ approval numbers are near record lows. According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans cited the U.S. government itself as the most important problem facing the nation.

President Trump was ostensibly sent to Washington on the back of this growing dissatisfaction to “drain the swamp,” just as Obama promised “Change We Can Believe In” -- but what does either slogan mean in practice?

Neither political party is offering a coherent vision for reforming a federal government that virtually every political observer agrees is fundamentally broken. What’s needed, what Americans are hungry for, goes far beyond tax reform or new social programs. What’s needed, in the view of Common Good, is a new governing philosophy.

No one would design the government we have now — a rusty pile of accumulated regulations, endless forms and approvals, overlapping programs, and legal rights that allow any disgruntled person to throw a monkey wrench into almost any public decision. The current structure of our government leads to paralysis by regulators and regulated alike and a greater concern for following the rules than for getting things done. Doctors and teachers spend a third of their time filling out forms nobody reads. OSHA regulates the height of railings down to the inch, while often losing sight of serious threats to worker safety. Vital infrastructure projects languish for years waiting for required permits from a dozen or more agencies.

So, what’s the solution? Common Good’s vision for fixing broken government is literally simple: We must radically simplify our approach to bureaucracy and regulations, so that everyone—officials and citizens—can use common sense. This isn’t deregulation, but rather smarter regulation. Regulation that allows for individual solutions, while still providing legal guardrails.

Today, government is too dense for anyone to act sensibly, much less make a difference. Accountability is nonexistent. We must reorient government and regulation to focus on results, not compliance, so that people can understand what’s required and have room to roll up their sleeves, get things done, and be held accountable for the results. At all levels of government, we must replace mindless bureaucracy with human responsibility and accountability. Real people, not rules, make things happen.

Common Good focuses on advancing this new governing philosophy with broad bipartisan support. Our Advisory Board consists of Republicans, Democrats, and independents, and we regularly hold conferences and events with groups from across the political spectrum.