We’ve gotten used to the idea that software will need to be tweaked and updated. We don’t have any problem with the concept of “bug fixes” and upgrades. We know that the more we test something, the clearer we’ll understand what works and what doesn’t, and the better the final product or process will be. But in the realm of public policy, we seem to have trouble embracing innovation. That’s in part because when you’re running for public office and you stand before the voters, you aren’t expected to have a hypothesis; you’re expected to have “the Plan.” The problem is, when you roll out any innovation, new policy, or plan for the first time, there are likely to be glitches, and because you’re in the public eye, those glitches are likely to end up on the front page in bold lettering. When the HealthCare.gov website crashed two hours after it launched in 2013, the problem, though temporary, became a stand-in for describing the entire pursuit of affordable health care coverage as folly. The point is, when you are in public office, there really is a lot of risk associated with pursuing bold actions. Even so, I believe it is our obligation to do so. It is inherent in the oaths we take. The point of being a public official is to find solutions to problems, especially the most intractable, and to have a vision for the future. I’ve always said that political capital doesn’t gain interest. You have to spend it, and be willing to take the hit. You have to be willing to test your hypothesis and find out if your solution works, based on metrics and data. Blind adherence to tradition should not be the measure of success.
Link · 3294