Podcast Episode 5 — Elaine Kamarck Connects the Dots

“When politicians can’t get anything done, it breeds distrust. It breeds anger.” — Elaine Kamarck

That was a key insight from Episode 5 of The Long Game podcast.

My story on a Ted Cruz aide’s critique of Jeff Flake illustrates how Cruz has been a major cause of gridlock in Congress.

Cruz has treated the Senate as a platform rather than as a mold, which was one of the key insights from Yuval Levin in Episode 2 of the podcast.

There’s a lot of connections here, with the insights from the podcast informing what I’m writing, and vice versa.

I had a meeting with a U.S. senator this afternoon who is concerned about the health of our Republic (he’ll likely be on the podcast soon enough). As our time drew to a close, he read me a quote from a speech Abraham Lincoln gave in 1838, in which Lincoln lamented a growing problem with mob justice.

“By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished,” Lincoln said, “the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation.”

When I heard the line about those who regard government as “their deadliest bane,” I thought of how too often conservatives have, in railing against government, fit this description. That’s not an indictment of a small government philosophy, but of the attitude that has sprung up among many that government can do no good.

I read the entirety of Lincoln’s speech. Near the end, he gives a moving description of how the deaths of those in the Revolutionary generation had deprived American society of a living memory of the ideals which animated their historic achievement.

Lincoln concluded his thought with this:

“They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason.”

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Episode Summary

“When politicians can’t get anything done, it breeds distrust. It breeds anger … The weakening of parties … most people think it’s a good thing,” Elaine Kamarck says. But, she warns that “the weakening of parties has meant the weakening of government. People don’t like that, but very few people see the connection between political parties and government.” Kamarck, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and a Democratic National Committee member and superdelegate, talks about her proposal to have a party gathering prior to the presidential primary to vote on potential candidates. But she says she doesn’t care if superdelegates go away. She also says she doesn’t fault Reince Priebus for not doing more as RNC Chairman to block Donald Trump from the nomination.




There’s violence in the streets because Americans have forgotten how to solve problems.

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