In our world of instant gratification and twitter, we as a people want fast solutions to problems. If you really think about it everything is instant this and instant that. The problem, in my personal view, is that this is spilling over into politics. While it is not new argument, it is changing how politicians are politicking in today’s society.
One great example is on jobs and the economy. While the picture is stark and not that promising for people who have lost their jobs, especially with unemployment at 10%, people are looking for a quick solution to give them a job. It is very similar with economic stimulus, as soon as it was passed people wanted results right way, not knowing that it will take months to actually take effect. I agree that the economy is in shambles at the current moment, but at the same time it does not really help the world by having people continue to nag and want a coherent economic policy to solve it right away. Most economic solutions take months to actually take effect.
Another example is on foreign policy. Diplomacy is slow and so is economic investment and development in a country. So, for a quick foreign policy fix using the military is often the solution to any foreign policy quagmire, Republican or Democratic president. The problem, once again, is that using military options usually leads to bad decision making and even a truth commission to investigate war crimes later, its like trying to remember what happened after a hangover.
So, why do politicians go to these “quick fix” solutions if they usually end up in a bad result. The simple explanation is popular demand. Think about it, if the public is anxious about something, they will demand that their politician do something about it right away. If the politician refuses to the action, he will loose his seat in the next election. So, in the end political expediency trades off with short term gain.
The reason that I find this so important is because I have noticed that Obama, a man who is very thoughtful and thinks longterm on most of his political expeditions, is starting to give into this feeling of “quick fix” politics, resulting in bad policies. Part of this is from populist pressure and also because his party is in big trouble. For example, healthcare, a long term solutions is basically dead, cap and trade, a long term solution is dead, and even a continuing negotiation with Iran is now dead. These solutions, while they might take a long time are desperately needed to stave off catastrophe later.
If I had one message for Obama, it would be not to give into the demands of “quick fix” politics. He should remember that a bad “quick fix” could lead to a quick exit for him in the midterm elections or in the next presidential election..