Even if most of us can agree on a definition of the “common good” (not a simple matter), there are substantial barriers to establishing public policies in accord with that agreement. The “democratic” element in our political system – the right of voters to choose the men and women who will create our laws – depends on the views of those voters being given considerable weight in determining eventual policy outcomes. Unfortunately, we have developed a political system – both in our elections and in the governing process – that gives disproportionate influence to relatively small numbers of voters (who are also the most partisan) and allows political parties through their closed procedures to limit the choices available to general election voters. Coupled with legislative rules that allow partisans to determine the makeup of legislative committees, the resulting process leaves the common good, however defined, a secondary consideration at best.

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