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2debates, as some individuals face greater oversight, some programs win a greater share of available dollars, and new oversight authorities are established and threaten existing power bases.Political scientist Aaron Wildavsky termed this cycle
“policy as its own cause” and suggested
that policies take new forms during implementation.Viewed in political terms, implementation is successful to the extent that it reinforcesexisting political commitments or creates new ones. This is different from securing a pol
substantive objectives. Crime rates go down, more children graduate from high school, fewer senior citizens enter poverty, and air quality improves
these are all indicators that a given policy has achieved its substantive goals.But, policies can be politically robust without being good. That is, they can achieve political aims without actually solving any problems and often create new ones. Much has beenwritten about the policy failures associated with the
War on Drugs,
for example, including thelack of attention towards treating addiction, sentencing disparities, and overcrowded andfinancially strapped jails, but these have failed to substantially weaken
a “tough on crime” approach to America’s drug problem
Similarly, policies can be successfulin ameliorating a public problem but draw little in the way of political support. Most economistsagree that preserving Social Security and Medicare for future generations will require substantialchanges to program eligibility, funding, and structure, but thus far, policymakers have not foundit in their political interests to advance entitlement reform.
However, political success and substantive success are inherently connected because public policies in democratic societies are sustained through politics, not around them. Policiesare crafted, implemented, and sometimes, repealed through politics. While public policies can