Governmental Sclerosis Must be Contained if We are to Lead

Sclerotic government…the term borrowed from a body’s autoimmune disorder is appropriate shorthand for a government that has grown too inefficient to serve the public good. Sclerosis, a nerve disorder caused by destruction of the insulating layer surrounding neurons in the brain and spinal cord, causes the body to progressively attack itself, slowly robbing it of sight, balance, strength, sensation, coordination and bodily functions. As this insidious disease progresses, the body’s energy that was once used to effortlessly work for the benefit of others, now is consumed to just minimally support itself. The good news is that sclerosis is rarely a fatal disease. The bad news is that it can progress rapidly to disability.

Sclerotic government…an autoimmune dysfunction of the body politic… Autoimmunity is the body’s defense irrationally turning against itself, mistaking cooperative organs trying to work together as enemies that must be eradicated. America’s founders believed the nature of mankind contained the seeds to turn against itself. They also believed given the opportunity, that men would imbibe government with this same irrational nature to allow more powerful factions to kill weaker ones in their quest for political power.

They therefore chose to intentionally create an institutional autoimmunity into the design of America’s Federalist system. To protect against an overwhelming desire of factions to dominate their brethren, the founders balanced man’s nature designing party against party, political branch against political branch, and states against each other and the federal government. In so doing, they created a less fatal, political autoimmunity of checks and balances.

Sclerotic government…rarely fatal but potentially progressing rapidly to disability…Our founders did not foresee the excesses of politics that could challenge its institutional sclerosis. They intended for gentlemen to serve out a civic duty and to return to their former lives when voted out by the public’s pendulum swings of political progression and conservatism. Instead, the body politic grew into a gerrymandered, extremist representation of professionally long lived ideologues hell bent on surviving the whims of a fickle public.

Intent on wielding the power of successive sessions of Congress, our representatives carved out highly political districts through gerrymandering, ensuring that extremists would be elected. They capped the number of representatives in 1929 at 435, and since have gained 253 percent more constituents per representative, intensifying the authority of each politician. They bowed to the changing influences of political mediums of communication creating the need for political campaign war chests that were funded by a minority of financially powerful constituents. As the body politic fed on itself, our politicians grew into the very organisms from which our founders had vowed to protect us through their sclerotic political system.

Is it any wonder then that the purposeful autoimmunity our founders built into our Federalist system is now reacting violently to our politicians’ abuses of the body politic? When a body containing the seeds of autoimmunity is inflamed, it reacts brutally. Without a holistic healing through specific measures to mitigate the bastardization of the original intent of the founders of our constitution, the sclerotic process of government hardening progressively deteriorates to disability.

Sclerotic government…a progressive deterioration of the body politics’ ability to service others, instead spending its weakening energy serving itself…Public charities are judged by their effectiveness at providing units of mission delivered per dollar of administrative overhead. If our government is in essence a charitable organization that mandates through law our obliged contributions, why is it that we do not demand a measure of its provision of units of mission delivered per dollar of agency budget? Because in so doing, we would measure the institutional sclerosis that has set in, insidiously hardening the body politic, immobilizing its agencies and governing organs, and deteriorating the body whole.

Nonetheless, measuring the financial effectiveness of each function of government must begin so that we can bring to light the hierarchy of relevance and capability of each function within our body politic. In so doing, government can begin to justify the realignment of spending that must begin in earnest. America must have a means to realign our functional sclerosis, to purge its excesses, and to reverse its trend to functional disability.


Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Bureaucracy, Federal Budget

2 responses to “Governmental Sclerosis Must be Contained if We are to Lead

  1. Sharon

    Clif Carothers. I found your site when I was trying to find out what “sclerotic” meant when used in reference to our government. I am happy it led to this article which I think sums the course our country is on in a beautifully concise way. Thank you for such an interesting blog.

    • Thank you Sharon. You might be interested in downloading my free ebook “America’s Thriving Path Forward” at It ties a few of my blogs into what I hope is a compelling story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s