Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Synthesis Paper
By Adan Makina, PhT, AA, BAS, MA


Mr. Makina is a scholar and editor
This synthesis paper combines four important political elements that shape up the American political system. It incorporates political institutions and nature of American public policy, the ethical considerations of policy formulation, leadership and presidential structure, and public and private connections. Hudson (2009) decries the perilous road the American political system has been through since the great nation’s inception in 1776 while Rosenbloom, Kravchuk, and Clerkin (2009) reflect on the vulnerability of the United States in the aftermath of 9/11 and the overall perception of public management. There has been much political and academic debate concerning the nature of governance in the United States in modern times. Modern democracy is about political competition while democratic governance tends to focus on the winners and losers that partake in the same political challenges (Anderson & Guillory, 1997). This paper will synthesize the various political pictures that shape American democracy, the challenging factors that have been the cause of American political tension, the gap between public and private connections, and the ethical aspects that many political analysts and academics deem worth preserving for the present and for posterity.

American Public Policy and Political Institutions

The American structure of government as stipulated in the constitution calls for separation of powers that incorporates the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary. The Executive branch is the Presidency; the Legislative branch of government is the Congress; while the Judiciary, the legal arm of the nation, is the Supreme Court of the United States. In modern times, there has been aggressive debate in political circles and in academia regarding limiting the powers of one arm of government. George W. Bush’s use of unilateralism to wage wars and impose stringent regulatory measures on the citizens of the United States during his reign has been a subject of much discussion that consequently paved way for the crafting of literature that oppose or support the powers of the presidency in times of peace or war (Moe & Howell, 1999). Rostow (1952) and Polly (2001) perceive the power of the judiciary as being the cause of the conflagration visible in other arms of government. While each branch of government has the right to exercise authority as stipulated by law, sentiments reign supreme in a society divided along political lines and defining social factors. What makes the presidency to be effective and overzealous at times is the unequal distribution of representatives in both Houses. As long as the tripartite federal government content in the Constitution is observed without being flouted by one arm, the current governmental setting should be left as it is until further deliberation.

Ethical Considerations of Policy Formulation

Public perception of the ethical reflection and expressions of American policy has seen dramatic changes in the last few decades. Public maturity and prevailing trends in educational and informational proliferation may be attributed to the catapulting of changing political perceptions. Technological innovation and globalization of politics has played a major role in the advancement of the American political landscape. Mishler and Sheehan (1993) argue that less attention has been directed towards collective decisions made by the courts and that there have been intermittent shifts in opinion between the presidency and congressional leadership resulting from divisiveness of partisan politics. Media houses, the major sources of dissemination of information, have been in the forefront of highlighting what is perceived as the rise in unethical behaviors and lack of accountability among government officials. Thus, in the last few decades, American public opinion has been rising exponentially and public sentiments rising mainly when the subject of discussion implied the political behaviors of leaders and the manner of government operations. At times, the media can be an effective in exposing the unethical behaviors of government officials and leaders of political parties. The media can be used to disclose unethical behaviors of leaders especially issues pertaining to misuse of funds, sexual misconduct, and shoddy contracts that may drain state coffers. The Watergate Scandal that happened during Nixon’s presidency is a case in point where the media played its rightful role feeding the public with the necessary information that would otherwise have been thrown under the carpet. According to Chanley (2002), public perception of the effectiveness of government operations increased greatly in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Public support of the government’s fight against international terrorism resulted in the boosting of homeland security and the extension of American presidential powers.

Leadership and Presidential structure

The powers of the American presidency is limited in scope and constrained by the powers conferred on Congress. Congress plays a great role in challenging the powers of the presidency by placing restrictions on the regulation of distinct policies despite the president enjoying undeterred veto power to drive a crucial agenda. According to Lowi (1972), the only means open for the government to wrest individual behavior and society, is through the concept of regulation. Through regulation, the president can impose measures that allow him to be in complete control of the nation’s affairs while giving other branches a share of jurisdiction. However, absolute use of presidential powers can be cause for political plunders as happened when George W. Bush embarked on a unilateralist path that caused widespread outcry domestically and internationally. To avoid attracting public scrutiny, presidential powers can be put into effective use only when the executive arm practices transparency to the fullest. There has to be some form of coordination between the three arms of government to inculcate effectiveness in governance.

Public and Private Connections

One way for the government to reach out to society is through the use of privatization where private enterprises, on contractual basis, deliver required goods and services in an accountable and legal manner. However, in modern times, privatization has become a political object that is mainly used by lobbyists and interest groups to advance their private and political agendas. The perception that privatization is a way of downsizing administration and diminishing daily administrative operations, is, arguably, inconsistent with modern governance. Privatization increases competition among existing providers of services and as well sets the stage for the elimination of monopolies (Warner & Bel, 2008). The major roadblock to privatization is the lobbying mentality that has become the hallmarks of oil conglomerates, industrial enterprises, manufacturing groups and teachers unions that tend to represent the greater percentage of society in Washington, DC.


Anderson, C.J. & Guillory, C.A. (1997). Political institutions and satisfaction with democracy: A cross-national analysis of consensus and majoritarian systems. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 91, No. 1, pp. 66-81.

Chanley, V.A. (2002). Trust in government in the aftermath of 9/11: Determinants and consequences. Political Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 469-483.

Hudson, William E. (2009). American Democracy in Peril: Eight Challenges to America's Future (6th Ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Lowi, T.J. (1972). Four systems of policy, politics, and choice. Public Administration Review, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 298-310.

Mishler, W. & Sheehan, R.S. (1993). The Supreme Court as countermajoritarian institution? The impact of public opinion on Supreme Court decisions. American Political Science Review, Vol. 87, No. 1.

Moe, T.M. & Howell, W.G. (1999). The presidential power of unilateral action. The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, V15 N1.

Polly, J.P. (2001). Precedent and judicial power after the founding. Boston College Law Review, Volume 42, Issue 1, Number 1.

Rosenbloom, D.R., Kravchuk, R.S., & Clerkin, R, M. (2008). Public administration: Understanding management, politics, and law in the public sector. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rostow, E.V. (1952). The democratic character of judicial review. Harvard Law Review, Paper 2135, Vol. 66, No. 2.

Warner, M.E. & Bel, G. (2008). Competition or monopoly? Comparing privatization of public services in the U.S. and Spain. Public Administration, Vol. 86, No. 3, 723–735.

No comments: