Negotiation is at the heart of practically everything that goes down in Congress. That said, negotiation is a messy task, in general, and explains why there are a bunch of failed attempts at getting things done in government.
Politics without “romance”
Many folks have this romantic view that government is filled with people that selflessly take on the problems of the world and can magically solve them through powerful speeches and hand waving. This is far from the truth.
When policies, budgets and laws are being drafted and negotiated in Congress, they are being put forward by regular people like you and me. Regular people in the sense that we make our decisions based on what will make us, as individuals, better off. We all value things differently. We react to incentives differently. Government officials don’t turn into all-knowing do-gooders who care more about the public than themselves. In the end, they want to get re-elected and keep their job. After all, we’re only human.
Outside of the government, this inherent feature of being human, with our ideas of what is or isn’t valuable, works pretty well. We use prices to help dictate our decisions and the cheddar in our wallets to go through on those decisions. Buyers and sellers come together in the “market” and agree upon prices to make the trade. To illustrate: I give the Uber driver $20, and in return he gives me a ride home after a rowdy Saturday night downtown.
Instead of selling goods and services, policymakers are selling policies to other government officials. What’s more is that money is not used as the medium of exchange. Back-door deals, favors and, ultimately, votes are used in the…