I am going to say some things that are, to most of the readers of Security Debrief, pretty evident. They warrant saying anyway. We are still more than a year out from the next Presidential election (and the accompanying Congressional races), and the level of discourse is so divorced from reality that I am a little nervous about our ability to govern effectively.

The debt ceiling “debate” was unfortunate and unprofessional. Unfortunately, I think it will only be one of many such performances we will see as we get closer to the elections. Both sides are so unwilling to act like adults, to compromise, to build consensus, that many folks are assuming we’ll get nothing done for the next year plus. If that happens, we will have some big problems.

I mean beyond looking like a nation of buffoons to the rest of the world.

The networks of this Nation continue to experience intrusions pretty much continuously. Regardless of the many positions within the community of interest that has built up around the cyber security issue set (at war/not at war, existential threat/just a major inconvenience, nation state threat only/terrorists and crooks can hurt us too, all hype/the sky is falling), nearly everyone agrees we have a problem. The bad part is that Washington is not in a problem-solving mood. They are spending too much time pointing out what the “other guys” are doing wrong and way too little on coming up with workable solutions.

OK, I don’t have the answer either, and I actually sit with many others who don’t think it is necessarily an issue that the Federal Government can solve alone. That said, the Executive and Legislative Branches do have some role, and it is one of leadership and agenda setting. It may need to go beyond that if others don’t play their own roles sufficiently well, but it is at least that.

Like it or not, people at home and abroad look to the American Federal Government for leadership, particularly on tough contentious issues. We seemed to have always been able to have an in-house argument in the past, then come up with some course of action that moves us (and all the other players big and small, foreign and domestic) down the road. It is never perfect, never particularly efficient, and never fast, but we have always made progress.

We need to return to that model again with regard to cyber security. It is one of our most critical areas and touches everything we do in life. If it is not secure, we are at risk.

I love the American political system; it is weird, contentious, unruly, and fun too. It is the best system out there, and I don’t want it to change. I do want the participants to “re-learn” how to play nicely (defined as actually getting stuff done) and to return to effective governing.

Many citizens are saying “A pox on both their houses!” I hope the politicians are listening. There is more at stake than just their re-elections.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More