Many criticisms of the current American government are that it does not get the things done that need to be done, and reform the things that need to be reformed. These ideas may be very true. In "Government's End", Jonathan Rauch claims that special interests have stopped major changes from ever coming to government functions or programs. He claims that the static environment now could end up being the environment of America for ever more.
Rauch begins by commenting that the 1980s and 1990s seem to be a quieter time following the social and political upheavals of the 60s and 70s. But he feels that while society was calmer, controversy in government grew masked in the visage of discontent. The early 80s through the middle 90s were a time of reformism. Rauch feels that the reformers of this more modern era failed to remake the government. The government instead remade them.
Since the Progressive era, the government has become more open, had more access, and been more professional. Professionalism entered both the civil service and the political class alike. Congress came to consist of 535 individuals all fighting for their own survival. With this development, the economics of the system became nasty. Lobbies were everywhere trying to get what they wanted out of politicians. When one politician wasn't going to be of help, then the lobby could always go somewhere else. Eventually, everybody had to have their "two-cents worth". Rauch uses the slogan, "If you don't play, you can't win-but boy, can you lose!"
Rauch points out that by the early 80s, trust in the government had gone the way of the dinosaur-died. In place of the confidence were suspicion and cynicism. Both liberals and conservatives dreamed of reform, but neither could get anything accomplished. Whether Republicans or...