Why policy matters

Sure, it’s been half a week now, but I really like how Zack Beauchamp highlighted this part of Clinton’s speech:

In a section that might be some of Clinton’s best oratory ever, she managed to summarize the core of the case for her over Trump in one compelling, short paragraph.

Here’s what she said:

It is true. I sweat the details of policy, whether we’re talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs. Because it’s not just a detail if it’s your kid, if it’s your family. It’s a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president.

She’s right: Nearly every policy decision a president makes has tremendous consequences for American lives. The president is an awesomely powerful office, possessing — on issues both domestic and foreign — the ability to decide who lives and who dies.

Yes!!  I came to my love of public policy late and reluctantly.  Sure, I followed it a decent amount, but through grad school I loved the fun stuff of elections, public opinion, voting, etc.  Only when I got to Texas Tech and had to teach my own course on public policy did I come to truly appreciate the subject.  Sure, following Clinton versus Trump is fun, but what matters in the end, is the policy.  And, damn, do those details matter.  If there’s one cliché I surely overuse in my policy class its, “the devil is in the details.”  This stuff really matters a whole, whole lot.  It is not just some academic exercise.  Real lives are absolutely at stake in ways large and small.  And this is why, no matter what Hillary’s flaws, I am a big fan.  To me, this is ultimately the most important part of politics, and Hillary gets it.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Why policy matters

  1. ohwilleke says:

    Honestly, I think attention to fine details is one of Hillary’s biggest failings. In a Chief of Staff, in a deputy cabinet secretary, in a department director, you want a firm command of details. In the President, who is the CEO of the United States of America, you need more of a hedgehog, more of a person who sees the forest for the trees and knows how to compare apples and oranges. The President sets priorities and provides vision. The loyal political appointees use their own judgment to come up with details that carry out that vision. Attention to detail doesn’t work nearly as well in indirect management, which is mostly what a President does, as it does in direct management. Indirect managers have to judge the character of the people implementing the vision and communicate that vision well. They have to innovate boldly or not at all.

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