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Thursday, January 21, 2021


 Ezra Klein at NYT:

“The wisdom from much of the political science research is that partisanship trumps everything,” says Amy Lerman, a political scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, and author of “Good Enough for Government Work.” “But one of the insights from the policy feedback literature in particular is that when people experience policy, they don’t necessarily experience it as partisans. They experience it as a parent sending their child to school or a patient visiting a doctor, not as a Democrat or Republican. And because people are often thinking in nonpolitical terms during their day-to-day lives, they are much more open to having their views changed when they see the actual, tangible benefits of a policy in their lives. It’s a way of breaking through partisanship.”


 In her book “Good Enough for Government Work,” Ms. Lerman argues that the U.S. government is caught in a reputation crisis where its poor performance is assumed, the public is attuned to its flaws and misses its virtues, and fed up citizens stop using public services, which further harms the quality of those services. The Trump years add another dimension to the analysis: Frustration with a government that doesn’t solve problems leads people to vote for demagogic outsiders who create further crises. But this is not an inevitability. Her titular phrase, she notes, “originated during World War II to describe the exacting standards and high quality required by government.” It was only in the 1960s and ’70s that it became a slur.