Friday, September 09, 2005

Contract with America II?

The Washington Post has a piece about Newt Gingrich’s response to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans almost two weeks ago and devastated the credibility of the Federal, Louisiana, and New Orleans disaster response teams shortly afterwards.  The former House Speaker’s assessment of government efforts made Andrew Sullivan’s quote of the day:  “For the last week the federal government and its state and local counterparts have consistently been behind the curve.”  He goes on to say, “We're not in a values fight now but over whether the system is working.  The issue is delivery.”

Events like Hurricane Katrina drive home the point that government does not perform well in a variety of situations.  One of the reasons that the response to Katrina was so disorganized is that no one had clear accountability to ensure success.  The response came from a number of interlocking government agencies at various levels of government, all of which lacked effective leadership and coordination.  This bureaucratic mishmash degraded the effectiveness of the response to this hurricane.  However, other very similar bureaucratic mishmashes contribute to degrading the effectiveness of government response in other aspects of our lives.  From highway spending, to Medicare, to education adding levels of decision makers who are removed from the situation and who lack direct accountability for results creates waste and inefficiency in government response to problems.  

It appears the Newt Gingrich recognizes this and wants to do something to correct it so that we can unlock the potential in our government and in our economy.  Newt Gingrich is an interesting politician - he is idealistic enough to recognize efficient solutions to complex problems, but is practical enough to understand if items are politically possible.  His Contract with America set the tone for reform in the 1990’s and he successfully moved towards greater efficiency.  

I remember listening to a speech Gingrich gave at Notre Dame while I was a student there.   His topic was leadership and his theme was that in order to lead, leaders must: first listen; then learn; then help; and finally lead.  He told the story of how he identified the opportunity to move the country in the direction that he wanted to go, how he gathered momentum with the Contract with America, and how he successfully pushed significant parts of into law.  At the time he had already left congress.  He stated that he had to lead congress because he could only lead a movement, he could not manage a status quo.

Are we seeing the beginnings of new movement lead by Newt Gingrich?  Will the Republicans nominate a Gingrich-Giuliani ticket of outsiders to shakeup Washington and to reform government at all levels?  Time will tell, but if they are serious about reform they will have my support.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Dick Van Dyke Honored for Charity Work
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Dick Van Dyke "I had a little tussle with the demon rum," Van Dyke said, alluding to his own problem with alcohol abuse years ago.
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