Quick Hit: A Political Culture

June 4, 2014

For the use of the membership only (214 words)

Indiana politicians settle so comfortably into the role of placeholders. When events reveal a policy void, they rush to fill the space where leadership otherwise might be.

This week, one of them noted that the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) doesn’t work. “If we are to correct the VA’s flaws, we must change its culture,” he explained in a news release.

No explanation was needed. Veterans know the culture of government when they see it, even in surgical scrubs — the long, senseless lines waiting for this chit or that, the cold, uncaring eyes of the clerk holding our Catch-22 paperwork.

So our politicians proudly describe the water in which their constituency drowns. They miss the point that we want things changed, systemically so, revolved right side up.

That, however, requires historical and economic understanding, management savvy and actual work — not only from the politician(s) but also from a differently skilled staff, one organized to govern wisely and not just flip issue after issue.

And it requires political risk. It means abandoning a narcissistic faith that government is magical (to crib from a Peggy Noonan commentary on Barack Obama). It requires more than just incanting the secret words of the publicist.

For the culture that our politicians must change is their own.

— Craig Ladwig



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