The sad scenes playing out in Baltimore are made sadder by the fact that more such incidents are likely over the coming years.
I am far more pessimistic about our political system than most Americans. At the same time, I am very optimistic about the future of our nation. That may seem like an odd combination to some, but I am optimistic because I recognize that Washington, D.C., does not lead the nation.
This was a big week for the political press. That means it was also a good week for highlighting how the world of the political elite is so out of touch with the world of everyday Americans.
In recent weeks, I've written about how the "Bootleggers and Baptists" dynamic corrupts regulatory politics. Bruce Yandle developed this concept decades ago. He observed that Prohibition became reality because Baptists wanted people to stop drinking while the ban on legal alcohol put money in the Bootlegger's pockets. The do-gooders succeeded only because the money-grubbers joined their effort.
Heading into the 2014 elections, some Democrats think they have found a way to minimize the political fallout from the president's health care law. They have convinced themselves that voters are more interested in fixing the law rather than repealing it.
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ended legal segregation in public schools with a unanimous 9-0 decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Conservatives and liberals had entirely different reactions to the recent confrontation between Attorney General Eric Holder and Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert. After the event, Holder expressed his view that no previous attorney general or president had ever had to deal with such treatment and that the reason had to do with race.
I am an optimist. I believe that America's best days are still to come and today's children will live a life far better than their parents and grandparents.
"A simple recipe for violence: promise a lot, deliver a little. Lead people to believe they will be much better off, but let there be no dramatic improvement." The brilliant political scientist Aaron Wildavsky wrote these words in 1968 while America was engulfed in race riots and anti-war protests.
Many reporters caught up in the bizarre world of official Washington have written extensively on political tactics and implications of the so-called government shutdown and disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov.
Mitt Romney's comments about 47 percent of Americans being dependent on government and locked in to vote for President Obama highlight a fundamental reality in American politics today: The gap between the American people and the political class is bigger than the gap between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C.
The health care debate is a great example of why Americans hate politics.
Mercifully, the political conventions have ended. The political press will keep buzzing over whether Clint Eastwood's unconventional speech helped or hurt Mitt Romney and whether the snafu over Israel and God in the Democratic platform will do any lasting damage to President Obama. But they are missing the point.
Political junkies get excited about the Republican and Democratic national conventions, but for many Americans they provide a stark reminder of how out of touch our political system has become.
When Republicans formally nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan next week, the race against President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be officially underway. Yet while the two teams represent different ideological views, different upbringings, different faith backgrounds and different experiences, neither of them has yet inspired any confidence among voters. Just 32 percent believe the economy will be stronger in a year if Obama is re-elected. Only 36 percent think it will be stronger if Romney wins.
One of the things Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate ensures is a series of polling questions over the coming months asking voters what's more important: creating jobs or cutting government spending; helping the economy or cutting deficits; repealing the president's health care law or focusing on the economy.
Just 16 percent of voters nationwide believe it was a good idea for the government to provide Solyndra with loan guarantees. The solar power company went bankrupt and stuck taxpayers with the tab for a half-billion dollars.
In my hometown, everyone is required to have a landline telephone so local officials can reach us with a reverse 911 call. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't work. In my family, we never use the landline. We talk on cellphones. Occasionally, telemarketers call. So do people looking for someone named "Danny," but we no longer answer. So, if a call came from our local government, we'd never hear their message. But when you're building a house and need to pass inspection, it's easier to put in the phone than fight city hall.
Consumer confidence fell to the lowest levels of 2012 this past week. Most Americans believe that both the economy and their own personal finances are getting worse. Just 25 percent believe the economy is getting better, and only 22 percent say the same about their personal finances.
Over the past few weeks, President Obama and his campaign team have launched a furious attack on Mitt Romney's record as head of Bain Capital, a highly successful venture capital firm.