Using John Kingdon’s policy window model, explain how a policy window opened in 1776 for the Declaration of Independence. Are there limitations to the model (in this case and/or in general)?
We can identify three main trajectories which led to the Declaration of Independence. They were the following ones: • Economic: There were an economic linkage between the colonies and the British Crown. The goods harvested in the colonies may not be sold within them. Colonies must send goods to Great Britain, who, after industrializing them, sell them again to colonies. After French-Indian war, Britain was bankrupt, and start to raise taxes in colonies, who complaint against them; starting a convulsed period, which linked with political situation. • Political: Before 1776, people in the colonies tend to live with a cognitive lock. That is, they did not know other ways of government apart from being colonies, subordinated to Great Britain. Its citizens were not considered British citizens, but subjects of the king. They were afraid of the King and his army, who controlled the American territory. There was a competition between European countries after colonies. After the French-Indian War, colonies began to think that Great Britain was not paying attention to them. After the Boston Tea Party, the motto “No Taxation without representation” was listened, and a rebellion started, in order to achieve a different status for the colonies. • Philosophical: Traditionally, Kings based their power in the theory of the Divine Right of Kings. This meant that God gave the Kings the power to rule their kingdom, and no opposition couldn’t exist to this. With de advent of the Enlightenment, a different theory started to arise. It rejected the Divine Right of the Kings, and started thinking in the Divine Right of People, in which God sent power to the people to rule and govern themselves. Thus people was in a state of nature. But, based in Thomas Hobbes’ and John Locke’s ideas, people started thinking that the state of nature couldn’t protect the security, the property ant the freedom by itself. Thus a social contract was required, between members of the society, to avoid chaos and anarchy. Philosophically, this theory created the necessity of a government, and gave the colonists their base to declare Independence. John Kingdon’s theory of Policy Window, states that we only can make policy, pass bills, or even “declare the Independence”, if the idea’s time has come. This opens a policy window to put the idea in the agenda, in the interest of people who make decisions to proceed with it. Policy windows open not frequently, and their duration can be very short. In order to open a policy window, there are three streams that have to be coupled: • Problems: It means the problem recognition (by indicators, crisis, focusing cases or feedback). • Policies: It means the formation and refining of policy proposals, in order to solve problems. • Politics: This stream is composed by changes of national mood, election results, changes of administration. In the case of the Declaration of Independence, we can link the three 1776’s trajectories, with the three Kingdon’s streams in the following way: • Economic / Problems: The economic situation in the colonies in 1776 (raise of taxes, no representation) may be updated and be considered as the problems they were living with. • Philosophical / Policies: Philosophical ideas (enlightenment, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu) may be updated and be considered the public policy needed to solve the problem. • Political / Politics: Political context (subordination, mistreat, end of French-Indian war), can be seen as the actual politics, the environment in which the problem and policies live. Then, with these three items coupled, and with the appearance of policy entrepreneurs (the Founding Fathers), the idea’s time came, and the policy window was opened, and the Declaration of Independence was signed. This model has many limitations. First of all, it has not been tested outside United States. There are different countries with different social structures, that make this model not usable. Another limitation of the Kingdon’s approach, for some cases, is the relative antiquity of the model. During the last 5-10 years, the role of media (especially social media), changed the whole political system, and the ways that the agenda is set. With social media appearance, political leaders, or influent actors, can manipulate the streams in order to change the policy windows in their own benefit.
What is the difference between "Going Public" and "The Power to Persuade" skills? What skills are necessary for each, and how do they relate to the 2 roles of the president? Which approach is dominant today? Why, and what difference does it make for governing?
Richard Neustadt “The Power to Persuade” (1960), and Kernell’s “Going Public” (1997), are two opposite thinking streams, referred to President role and power. The “Power to Persuade” stream have a key point: “The Presidential power is the power to persuade”. This is because Presidents are expected to do much more than their authority allows them to do. Thus, they have to use different techniques, like persuasion, bargaining, compromise, logrolling; in order to influence policy (legislative power, and the executive itself) and not merely command it. Here, President power is created from his position in government, his reputation within the country, his prestige outside. He or she may act from this background. And his perception is the only valid. This role is so unique, that no one can choose or decide for him. There are some inherent skills needed to persuade: political ability, power of negotiation, leadership skills. The “Going Public” technique, also called the rhetorical president, consists in the simple fact of appearing in public. A usual goal is to make Congress passing legislation that the President wants. For example, when President Reagan really wanted to achieve something, instead of using Neustadt techniques, he went on TV and address the nation. And why Presidents like Reagan prefer to go public instead of persuade? Because they can. It is easier and requires less time than persuading, and it is an excellent opportunity to frame an issue. Eventually, choosing “going public” than negotiation has its cost, because “Going Public” implies passing over the heads of Congressmen and talk directly with the constituency. There are some skills needed to going public successfully, like a good performance, good speeches, a good image, etc. There are two presidential roles, and each one of them is more closely to a thinking stream: • Head of State: Is the role of the President as the visible face of the country. It talks about governing, but it focuses especially in being the symbol of the Nation. It implies being there when a crisis arises, address the Nation, represent the constituency abroad, and be a piece of unity. A President with the ability and the capability of Going Public is especially desirable for this role. • Head of Government: Is the role of the President that implies government. It talks about the President as the CEO of the Executive Power. It implies signing bills, executive orders, coordinating the Cabinet and bureaucracy, making things work and happen. In order to achieve all this issues, President will use negotiation abilities, bargaining, compromise and logrolling. A President with the power to persuade is needed for this role. Today the “Going Public” stream is dominant, especially in electoral campaigns. It’s easy, with social media, TV coverages, internet, etc.; to win people’s sympathies being a good actor and going in public really well. Indeed, it is especially useful in agonal politics, the struggle for power. However, when you are in the Oval Office, you must necessarily have the power to persuade, in order to succeed with everyday issues. Not everything can be solved going public.
There are many differences between parliamentary and presidential systems. Why doesn’t the United States have a parliamentary system like most European democracies? What difference does it make for building coalitions and governing?
There are many reasons which explain why the United States doesn’t have a parliamentary system. The main one is because our political system is based in our political culture and background. Remember that we created our government from a cognitive lock, and from a context, explained in the 1st question. This context (political entrepreneurs were ex-British patriots, the existence of the King, the mistrust in government) molded a different system. According Davidson and Oleszek, “familiar with the British Parliament’s prolonged struggles with the Crown, the authors (of the Constitution) assumed the legislature would be the chief policy-making body and the bulwark against arbitrary executives”. United States Constitution establishes three separate branches of government, and checks and balances between them. Because Americans didn’t trust government, they saw in this way the best way to maximize the control of government. To summarize the importance of political culture in the U.S. Constitution, Cammisa and Manuel states: “How can we provide for the effective rule of the majority and still protect the right of the minority out of power”. The separate powers of government, and the check and balances system between them, is the answer to this question. Finally, there is one last big difference. We must not forget than the British system is consequence of the evolution, and the American system is consequence of a revolution. There are several differences between Presidential and Parliamentary systems, in order to build coalitions and govern. Parliamentary systems elect their legislators, and then the Parliament elect a Prime Minister (the majority party, or a coalition of parties if a majority is not reached by an only party). Almost everything in government is controlled by the Parliament, which is very powerful. For example, if the coalition that elected the Prime Minister breaks up, another Prime Minister must be elected, or elections may be anticipated. The main difference is that in the United States the President is elected separately from members of Congress. Among with the Judiciary system, the three of them constitute different powers of government. It may affect the way in the public policy are formulated, adopted, and implemented. Maybe, United States’ presidential system can lead in a less efficient way of government, but it is in this way because is what they have chosen. At the moment to establish their own government, United States prioritized the fairness over the efficiency. This can be seen in the U.S. Congress, which “remains virtually the only national assembly in the world that drafts in detail the laws it passes instead of simply debating and ratifying measures prepared by the government in power” (Davidson and Oleszek). The House is filled up in single-district elections, where winners-take-all. This has a reason. These kind of elections were made to represent and protect local interests, based in the cultural background of the Independence era. Because of that system, and the political structure of US states, bipartisanship in Congress is likely to be formed. These strong majorities may lead to a single party reaching the majority needed to pass bills and enact laws. In parliamentary systems, there are usually more political parties, and Parliament’s power is fragmented. Thus, coalitions have to be formed to elect the Prime Minister (as noted), or even to pass routine bills. However, once the coalitions are established, and because of the great amount of power that Parliament has, government tend to be more efficient, because of the lack of check and balances between each power, and controls between each Chamber of Parliament. The power of political parties is tied to the “single-district or proportional” issue. In proportional elections, legislators are more tied to their political parties than to constituencies, which empower the parties. On the other hand, there is a polarization in the ideological basis of U.S. political parties, because the Congressmen have to represent all residents of their constituency.