Government and Competence

Is it possible to track the competence of a government? I wonder if one could make an argument for the thesis that the United States government is trending toward incompetence.

The argument could be partisan or nonpartisan. It could focus on the incompetence of a certain party, or instead on incompetence rooted in inexperience (younger governments would be more incompetent than older ones, perhaps).

It would be interesting to consider whether this argument could be conscientiously and impartially constructed. Some will argue that such an argument is impossible because all arguments about politics are inherently biased and therefore incapable of assessing a government’s competence.

If such an argument is possible, however, then it’s because it is in fact possible to assess competence. But this implies that it is possible to objectively determine a definition of governmental competence. Presumably, this definition would vary from function to function and agency to agency. The government is varied. The definition of its competence must be similarly varied.

I suppose not much hinges on this, but a psycho-political point can be made: perhaps political cynicism is nothing but the belief in the inextricably political nature of government, and perhaps such cynicism is wrong.


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