Responsive Government Term Paper

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Political Science

As nations move away from a bureaucratic approached to building government t monoliths, the course of political leaders has been termed "creating a more responsive government." Responsive government is a reaction against the long lines, and red tape which has typically stereotyped inflexible government behaviors. Responsive government must become a reality in a world in which citizens have instant access to information and influence which in the past was open to only a select few. Responsive government is an systemic approach which must be addressed by all types of governments, whether democratic, socialist, or modern hybrid.

Robert Dahl (2000) says that a paradox often exists in the execution of government services. Although a majority of citizens in most democratic countries may view participating in political life as neither urgent nor rewarding, overwhelming majorities of citizens do value the rights and opportunities their democratic system of government provides to them. While they are unhappy with the way government operates, they want the freedom to participate in the governing process, and know that their voices will be heard. Although they may choose not to exercise their rights and seize their opportunities very often, their views are definitely not internally inconsistent. (Dahl, 2000)

Dissatisfaction with the way their government works might in the long run weaken the confidence of some citizens in the value of the first dimension of democracy and thus weaken their support for democracy. On the other hand, citizens may conclude that they will simply have to participate more actively in political life in order to mend the defects they see in the operation of their government. They are less likely to do so, however, unless they possess some idea of plausible remedies and solutions. When they perceive that the government is a fixed structure, unconcerned for their welfare, and unwilling to adapt to their needs, they both give up on the idea of reform, or become passive aggressive citizens, who subtly defeat the purpose of government in their own lives.

During the past decade, with the collapse of socialist and communist European countries, much research has been performed to answer the question 'why?' In what ways did governmental system which was ideologically aligned with the well being of the people miss their intended target so as to create total failure? The attempt -- and failure -- to bring about a genuinely socialist society remains the most momentous political-historical phenomenon of our times. Scholars continue to study and reflect on the question of socialism. What is troubling is that so many appear blind to the implications of that momentous phenomenon.

According to Paul Hollander, (2001) Norman Birnbaum has done considerable research into socialist ideals and movements in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Russian but he seems to have learned little. His book is filled with bitterness over the incapacity of these ideas and movements to transform political and social life in a fundamental way. He bemoans a multitude of unrealized possibilities and alternatives. The result is a combination of careful scholarship with the barely contained utopian impulses of a former true believer. Birnbaum's unhappiness arises from what he sees as a lack of meaning and sense of community in contemporary Western societies. These are legitimate complaints and preoccupations; yet few of them share Birnbaum's far-left conviction that some sweeping social transformation could deliver us from these ills by overthrowing the capitalist order. "While he should be applauded for recognizing that the Bolshevik Revolution, which grew out of similar discontents, amounted to an "enormous tragedy," his insistence on fanning the flames of political radicalism signals an unwillingness to reflect on whether revolutionary ends themselves, rather than some context-dependent contingency, might be the ultimate cause of totalitarian brutality." (Hollander, 2001)

The reason for the collapse of socialist government was not as much their ideology, but their unresponsiveness to those whom they served. The socialist ideal, which was chiefly a reaction against medieval feudal society in the same way that the Bolshevik Revolution was a reaction against Russian tyranny, mis-defines the power and purpose of government. Successful government cannot design as a gatekeeper of the people, instructing citizens where to go, and how they should organized their lives. A truly responsive government, one which will receive the support of its people is a government which is by the people, of the people, and for the…[continue]

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