HKS Authors

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When trouble strikes in our personal lives and we are searching for a source, it usually makes sense to take a look in a familiar place -- the mirror. And so it should be in our troubled politics today. Many of us are deeply angry at politicians in Washington and the broken government they have created. We tend to look down upon them as jackasses and ideologues who are incapable of organizing a two-car funeral. We blame special interests for capturing them, a 24/7 media for encouraging them, and power for corrupting them. Indeed, a list of reasons for broken government could -- and will -- fill a week of columns. But perhaps we give too little attention to the basic notion that our politicians are also a reflection of the public they represent. As the old saying goes, we get the president we deserve -- and usually the Congress, too. In truth, our fractured politics are due in no small part to a fractured country -- one in which consensus and moderation are disappearing. With apologies to President Truman: the buck stops here.


Gergen, David and Michael Zuckerman. "Is America Becoming a House Divided Against Itself?", September 28, 2011.