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The Art and Practice of Governance


Published: September 24, 2019

Challenges from fiscal, monetary, regulatory, and trade policy are nothing new to American politics. However, our practice of governance has been neglected, creating uncertainty about the government’s competency. Good governance is needed to establish and fulfill our long-term priorities of economic growth, individual liberty, and a broadly shared peace. It is essential to have a vision for where we want to go and always to check that we are working toward that goal over time.

Discussion Question

  1. Why has campaigning given more importance than governance?
  2. What can we do to embrace good governance?

Additional Resources

  • You can read George Shultz’s chapter, “In Brief: A World Awash in Change,” in Blueprint for America. Available here.
  • You can find the rest of “Blueprint for America” here.
View Transcript

It is tempting to think that the problems we face today are somehow different from the ones that came before.

But for all the day-to-day noise in Washington, D.C., America’s most important priorities remain much the same:

Managing government spending without putting an undue drag on our economy; usefully guiding private enterprise through regulation that doesn’t snuff out its spark; asserting our country’s global alliances and security objectives; and educating the next generation of Americans.

But America’s leadership continues to suffer from a lack of long-term thinking.

It is important to have a vision for where you want to go, and to always check that you are working toward that goal over time.

Otherwise it is too easy to lose focus and get knocked off track by the crisis of the day.

As a nation, our practice of governance has been neglected. Immediate political and policy

victories are emphasized over establishing and realizing long-term priorities. While governance is a process, not an end in itself, long-term policy solutions cannot be sustained without good governance.

Campaigning is the act of division. Governance is the complete opposite. It’s an act of inclusion, finding common ground.

With the campaigning-governance balance so seriously off kilter, it’s no wonder Americans have less trust in their government.

While we bicker amongst ourselves, opportunities to address some of our most serious challenges pass us by.

The political environment should welcome competent individuals who work in good faith with each other on matters that are important for the country.

Once campaigning is over, we need to embrace governance so we can make progress on all of the issues that trouble us.