What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Policy Making Process? What Constitutional Questions Do They Raise? What Constitutional Changes Are Needed to Address These Questions?

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The policy making process in CA plays an instrumental role in the prosperity and quality of life that exist today, and will exist in the future for CA. Public policy can be defined as a public response to public problems. It's what the government says and does about these problems. Policy is when government and nongovernmental agents work together to create solutions for the public at large. The policy actors are formal, as well as informal; they are individuals or groups, which bring about the influence needed to implement public solutions.

There are numerous issues within CA that are increasing the strain placed on the policy making process. The biggest challenge CA faces in the next few decades is meeting the needs of a growing population. It is estimated that by 2020 CA's population is going to expand to surpass 45 million people. How is the policy process going to create an infrastructure to accommodate the needs of a not only an expanding, but also a largely socially diverse population? There are going to be strings pulled in so many directions, that the policy making process is going to have a very difficult time efficiently making decisions to deal with pressing problems. And, the scary part about all this, is the fact that the policy making process is basically a game.

Policy actors are using every means possible to get the results they want, and they aren't necessarily representing the public interest. They have strategies that they use to maximize their interests. The essential skills needed are bureaucratic knowledge, networking (or access to individuals within the bureaucracy), an understanding of the size of constituency, money for political contributions, and the resources to mount a media driven campaign. But ever all this isn't enough; they also need to know all the rules and the culture of the policy environment.

The strengths of the policy making process are few, but worth mentioning. One of the strengths of the policy making process lies in the Executive Branch. Our CA constitution requires that seven non governor related individuals are elected directly, which limits the power of the governor. This is to ensure that the governor doesn't have the ability to implement the policies he wants, limiting his power to the power of using influence, and persuasion; to get ideas moving through the legislature. The legislature has the ability to make the laws, while the Governor can only recommend laws. Governors can also expand their influence through the judicial bureaucracies and executive branch via appointments of like minded players. A recent example of how the executive branch has taken some of the power out of the hands of the governor is the recent initiative Arnold was trying to put on the ballot. Because Arnold had to have petitions out on the streets, and the people saw what was going on, it wasn't behind closed office doors, they had time to react, and express their opposition, and force Arnold to take his initiative back to review until the people are happy with what is being presented.

Moreover, there is yet another positive aspect to the policy making process in CA. It is the ability of individuals in our government to build up massive strength and make decisions that can represent the people in CA. But, this also brings up one of the biggest problems with our policy making process, the fact that more so than not, the individuals in our society that possess the ability to create change and make decisions on we the citizens behalf, are not doing so in our interests.

There are many weaknesses in the policy making process, most of them are constitutional ones involving the double edged sword of our supposed democratic society, and our government that is supposed to ensure it is so. It is said that the US is a democracy. Thus, within the state of CA everyone should be entitled to an opinion and vote, and it should be of equal influence. But this is definitely not the case in policy...
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