The process of making policy depends on the political state of the subject country. The US and other democratic nations apply a top-down policymaking process. In such a system, officials are elected by the public and charged with the responsibility of formulating policies designed for the best interests of the country. However, leaving complicated matters of a country to a handful of individuals poses challenges as well. Some formulated policies do not conform to the needs of the country and therefore oppress the citizens. This makes it necessary for the government to establish guidelines that dictate the policymaking process (Heclo and Madsen, 2011). Ultimately, the nature of policies determines the social, political, and economic state of a country.
The policy making process is an intricate activity for any country’s political system. This activity brings together the major shareholders of the country to lay down major concerns. The top-down approach is the major way applied in this process. Policy changes in a country normally reveal themselves in terms of law changes. Majority countries mandate the responsibility of policymaking to a branch of the government. This branch is composed of government representatives who analyze the country’s environment and make necessary policy changes designed for the country’s best interests. This process is normally referred to as delegated legislation (Heclo and Madsen, 2011).
This process saves the country time and resources that would be spent if the citizens were involved. Moreover, because the policy makers are also citizens, they policymaking process represents the views of the entire country. However, policymakers are known to abuse their authority and engage a policymaking process centered on their personal views rather than that of the country. This implies that the law changes emanating from such an agenda setting is imposed on the citizens.
This trend has remained constant in the last two decades. The parliament exercises its policymaking authority as stipulated by a country’s institution. In democratic countries, the bottom-up process only comes into play when citizens are presented with an opportunity of changing those in leadership. In the United States for example, the state holds elections every four years in an activity that represents the bottom-up process (Strayer, 2008).
Lobbying presents lawmakers with important information regarding societal reforms and directs towards potential solutions. However, the lobbying profession sometimes becomes tied closely to money thus posing high risk of corruptions. Therefore, meaningful lobbying reform should be anchored on protecting the rights of the lobbying persons and attempt to break the corrupting nexus between lawmakers, money, and lobbyists. All democratic governments require legitimacy for proper functioning. In turn, legitimacy comes from support and trust of the citizens. Any suspicion of undue influence in the government compromises legitimacy. Meaningful lobbying reforms that citizens advocate are strong measures to restraint corruption and undue influence.
Therefore, lobby reforms need to be centered on the political realities of a country. In particular, the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 stipulated that lobbying reform mandate registration and revelation of a number of considerations. These include lobbying professionals, clients, and financial activity (Strayer, 2008). In this regard, such reform should extend accountability and transparency measures beyond lobbyist and confer it to public officials.
For example, President Bush’s administration approved a bill that compelled lawmakers to reveal information regarding their efforts to fund projects. Political analysts in this period considered this measure a major ethical reform that was not witnessed in the US for a long time. This bill required lawmakers seeking targeting allotted or targeted spending projects to disclose their plans in advance. Ultimately, these reforms were effective and managed to lower perceived corruption in lobbying activities (Heclo and Madsen, 2011).
The Obama administration on the other hand received approval from political critics due to its restrictions on lobbying. Obama exercised authority in his first day at office by signing an executive order. His action barred people registered to lobby in the previous two years from administration jobs. It also prohibited new hires from accepting gifts from lobbyists. The White House flaunted these restrictions as the most strict government ethics in America’s history. However, these reforms were not effective because they were compromised by Obama’s decision to waive the policy and allow a number of lobbyists to acquire high-ranking positions.
The American government applied military intervention to control situations it considers foreign conflict. Military intervention is often an option of relieving protest as well. As the government endeavors to make necessary policy changes or enhancements, citizens often exhibit mixed reactions. On certain occasions, citizens may feel aggrieved by certain policies and resort to protests to go against the policy in quests (Heclo and Madsen, 2011). The government recognizes peaceful protests but they sometimes turn into chaos. This makes it necessary to employ military intervention to internal disorder. Along the same line, intervention by the military can compel corrupt foreign governments to step down thus saving corruption and harm.
For example, the US government employed military intervention to prevent further oppression in Iraq by President Saddam Hussein. The Bush Administration has to intervene by sending American troupes in Iraq to quell the anarchy and restore order in the country. The intervention bore fruit as Saddam was apprehended and sentenced to death for his unjust rule. However, it is important to recognize the risks of military intervention. A country has to conduct intensive scrutiny of the political system of the country undergoing distress (Strayer, 2008). A decision to deploy military troupes may end up critical as conditions in the subject country may worsen.
The United States has passed over the years numerous policies designed to curb or control crime. Some of these polices include sex offenders laws, mass incarceration, gun laws, private prisons, community policing, and supermax prisons among others. Indeed, these policies are cogent and support the theory that crime is more frequent when deterrence is lax. As the state applies stringent justice polices, crime has notably reduced over the years (Heclo and Madsen, 2011). Rape, robbery, assault, and homicide have exhibited decline since the 1990s. For example, over 5.5 million Americans (2% of the population) were or parole, probation, jail, and prison in 1996. As of 2008, this number declined significantly to 4.7 million (Strayer, 2008). Considering that the US population has increased significantly, the ration has reduced as well. This revelation serves testament that applying stricter deterrence policies discourage crime.
Democratic nations such as the United States formulate policies constructed to foster well-being for the citizens. Such policies revolve around the political, economic, and social system of the nation. The government however lays out barriers that put officials in check and prevent them from exploiting citizens. Citizens sometimes feel aggrieved by some policies and exercise their right to push for change. This move is a form of bottom-up process of initiating the policymaking process. However, it is important to understand that the top-down process is most dominant.
Heclo, H., & Madsen, H. (2011). Policy and politics in the United States: Principled pragmatism. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Strayer, P. J. (2008). Fiscal policy and politics. New York: Harper.
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