The themes of this paper include tools of democracy and public policies. It also reflects on Bush’s administration and compares it to Obama’s regime about policy implementation approaches.
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The Descriptions of George Bush and Barack Obama
George Bush was the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009 (Lee, 2013). He is credited with the campaigns of the War on Terror; the campaigns entail international military actions that have been focused on fighting groups of terrorists after the attacks of 2001 on US soil by the Al Qaeda terrorists (Wittes, 2010; Davis, 2007). Besides security, Bush also promoted policies on issues of economy, social security, education health, and taxes (Davis, 2007).
George Bush was succeeded by Barack Obama, who became the 44th president of the United States. He is the first African-American to hold the office. President Obama is credited with policies regarding economics, health, and taxes among others (Hicks, 2011; Pagel, 2011).
The Similarities and Differences between George Bush and Barack Obama
Even though it was expected that Obama’s policy implementation approaches would be more effective than those of George Bush, there are both similarities and differences that can be pointed out about their policy implementation approaches.
Concerning similarities, it is important to note that President Obama has adopted and perpetuated the policies formulated and implemented during Bush’s administration. An example is the Guantanamo Bay prison, which President Obama promised to close down once he would get into office. However, he has continued to pursue the policy without making any change to it (Renshon, 2010; Singh, 2012).
In terms of differences, President Obama appears to be more effective than the former president in the implementation of foreign policies (Kalaitzidis & Streich, 2011). For instance, Bush had no clear policy to deal with both the Al Qaeda and Taliban, a scenario that may be considered as a sign of ineffectiveness. Conversely, President Obama has a policy that is focused on dismantling terror groups around the world. This signifies that Obama’s policy implementation approach is more effective than that of the former president (Kalaitzidis & Streich, 2011).
The Importance of Leadership as a Tool for Implementing Public Policies
Successful implementation of policies greatly depends on leadership. Government policies need to be formulated with budget constraints and on time. This may not be an easy task where public administration is delivered in a complex, ambiguous and contestable environment (Sapru, 2011).
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Strategic implementation of any public policy requires the participation of all the stakeholders. Hence, there is a need to identify who the stakeholders are and involve them at various levels of a policy implementation process, which can only be effective when leaders involve all stakeholders (Rowitz, 2012).
The Selected Tools and Practices
Public policies are often about influencing individuals’ behaviors for the benefit of the public (Herrick, 2011). In this case, several tools are used. Some of the tools include authority, incentive, and capacity tools. According to scholars, authority tools constitute approaches that are the most preferred by the government in terms of achieving policy objectives (Mgbeke, 2009). Authority tools are mainly statements that are grounded on a legitimate authority of a government that authorizes, proscribes, or requires actions to be undertaken under specific circumstances (Mgbeke, 2009).
Incentive tools rely on tangible benefits that induce compliance under certain conditions. Incentive tools presume that individuals are utility optimizers and will not be positively encouraged to observe policy requirements unless they are influenced, forced, or motivated by the use of tangible incentives (Magari, 2008).
Capacity tools are used to provide specific information, learning, training, and other necessary resources to enable groups, agencies, and individuals to make decisions about policy goals. These tools are often used where individuals and groups are willing to comply with policy requirements, especially if they are provided with the relevant resources (Magari, 2008).
The Effectiveness of Democratic Tools in the Implementation of Public Policies
In the reviewed case, the policy change involved a shift from regulatory to non-regulatory approaches to policy implementation. About this, the tools mentioned in the previous sections have varying degrees of effectiveness in terms of implementing the foregoing policy change. In this regard, the effectiveness of the authority tools derives from the legitimacy of the government. When a government is legitimately established, all subjects under it are bound by its policy decisions. Hence, the tools might work effectively in the reviewed case (Herrick, 2011).
The use of incentive tools might also be effective when applied to the reviewed case. The government might use different incentives, like tax cuts or tax holidays, to make different stakeholders comply with the new environmental policy implementation process (Magari, 2008). These tools might also be very effective in the case because individuals and entities often respond to rewarding incentives and always choose highly valued alternatives (Magari, 2008).
Capacity tools may not be as effective as the foregoing two categories. As stated earlier, capacity tools rely on the provision of information, training, education, and other resources to enable individuals, groups, and business entities to make decisions that relate to the policy objectives of the government (Magari, 2008). Once the information is provided to the relevant stakeholders, compliance with the policy objectives or provisions becomes a matter of an individual’s decision; if coercion or any incentives are not used, these tools might not be effective in the reviewed case. Therefore, if these tools were to be used, they would only be effective when used together with the other two sets of tools (Magari, 2008).
The Strengths and Limitations of the Tools
Authority tools are probably the most effective when used in the process of policy implementation. However, if the policy decisions made by the government are perceived as unrealistic or repugnant, any form of coercion may make stakeholders rebel against the policy (Herrick, 2011). Incentive tools are very effective when used in a business environment. However, the tools may not work where activities do not generate revenues; in this case, incentives such as tax breaks or tax holidays are not relevant (Magari, 2008). One of the strengths of capacity tools is that they are easy to use where individuals and groups are willing to comply with policy objectives. However, the tools are limited where there is no will to comply with a policy even after availing all the necessary resources (Magari, 2008).
The use of tools of democracy in the implementation process of policies is the most effective approach. The tools provide a range of alternatives through which the government may effectively influence the behavior of individuals for the benefit of the entire public. Besides, the use of such tools provides the government with an avenue to involve all stakeholders during policy formulation and implementation processes.
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