The national political cycle is focused once again on the personalities, their policies, and hype of the punditry.

To best maintain sanity and perspective amidst all of this noise, one would be well served to visit Philip K. Howard’s The Rule of Nobody.

A thoroughly non-partisan work, Howard takes an unvarnished look at why no official in the American government really has the authority to make a decision alone.

As we learned in social studies, the founders designed natural inefficiency into the governing system of the U.S.

The separation of powers and the system of checks and balances each ensure a slow, lethargic pace. This goes back to creation of the republic.

Still, what has Howard concerned is the more recent rise of a byzantine network of regulations, executive orders, laws, advisory panels, sub-committees, impact studies, and the like that has evolved to make government even more inefficient and unresponsive.

Today, accomplishing anything of import requires layers of approvals from multiple levels of governments.

As many in the private sector have learned the hard way, these layers and levels tend to complicate even the most simple of matters to a maddening degree.

The book is chock-full of illustrations and case studies which re-enforce Howard’s central argument that nobody is really in charge.

It is a sobering read; and, one that should be kept in mind as hollow promises of getting things done cascade from candidates’ mouths.