Obama Congress - What a Mess

As you already know, the US Government has been shut down for over two business weeks. The President and Members of Congress battle over who is to blame while failing to present any real solutions. What's going on here in Washington is simply a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Two ghastly phenomena have made life here in DC barely liveable lately.

One is a natural phenomena forcing inhabitants of DC and the surrounding area to consider taking to building their very own Noah's Arks for what could have been 40 more days and 40 more nights of soaking and flooding rain!

The other phenomena is self-inflicted, brought on by a much lower level of intelligence with an approval rating hovering around 5% - The US Congress.

As you already know, the US Government has been shut down for over two business weeks.

The President and Members of Congress battle over who is to blame while failing to present any real solutions.

What's going on here in Washington is simply a symptom of a much bigger problem.

A total breakdown of the governing process of the richest and most influential economy in the world.

The US democratic system of government with its unique concept of checks and balances and separation of powers as established by the Founding Fathers was truly a most remarkable idea.

However, it was originally designed to serve the needs of a much smaller group of individuals with similar values and beliefs.

As America grew through the decades with waves of new immigrants coming to it shores, the force that bound these Americans together was not a common heritage but a belief in the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

This belief along with the capacity to re-examine and re-invent built into these documents allowed for the expansion and growth needed as the nation itself grew.

It now seems that a combination of unlimited money in the political process, an uninformed and uneducated electorate willing to vote against their own interests and a lack of competitive seats in both Houses of Congress, due to carefully gerrymandered ("safe seats") Congressional districts, may have dealt a tragic blow to our democratic system.

President Kennedy was fond of saying that we get the kind government we deserve.

It seems at the moment this is exactly what America has - a government so divided it has ceased to function.

The voters by their own choosing have elected a dysfunctional government: a Democratic President, a Democratic Senate - with not enough votes to overcome a filibuster - and a Republican House - controlled by an extreme faction of their divided party.

As a result, Congress and the President cannot even get their basic tasks done - to pay the bills and keep the government running.

As we now can see the voters have sent a team of legislators to Washington whose goal is simply not to govern.

The traditional two party system has split into a de-facto three party system resembling a parliamentary system but with none of the benefits.

In a parliamentary democracy the government usually has enough votes to put its policies in place because of the very nature of that system.

It seems that the recent progressive changes in America including the recognition of gay rights, the election of a black president and the passing of Obamacare may have been just too much change for some to absorb in such a short amount of time.

This has resulted in a backlash as evidenced by the election of members of the Tea Party who claim they wish to restore their version of American Democracy.

However, it seems what their real goal may be is to push back these reforms, eliminate all entitlements, take back the rights of minorities and limit who may or may not vote in the elections.

They also seem to be committed to governing without compromise and so far they have been successful at creating government gridlock through fear.

The panic they have engendered within their own party is the fear of a heavily bank-rolled challenger to any Republican who is brave enough to defy them.

It seems clear that the Republicans under House Speaker John Boehner have been admonished and bullied by this group.

As a result, they have not put anything to a vote that is not pre-approved by this "our way or the highway" minority.

At first their rallying cry was "Defund Obamacare", when that effort fell flat they chose another "populist" fight - refusing to raise the debt ceiling.

Unfortunately for America and the rest of the world, a failure to raise the debt ceiling and any resulting default by the US Government on its debt has the potential to bring this nation's economy to its knees and the rest of the world along with it.

These Tea Party politicians don't seem to understand that this is not merely a political power game.

Their provincial outlook and their lack of financial literacy is truly alarming.

It has taken generations for America to reach the point where the US dollar is the world's reserve currency and American Treasury Bills are still the safest investment.

If the world loses confidence in America's commitment to honour its obligations, that loss of trust may never be restored.

So it is hard to imagine that this group of legislators who do not even represent the majority of their own party should be allowed to risk US credibility and world economic stability to make a political point.

This is not just party politics.

This time the whole world is watching and they do not like what they are seeing.

It is well past time for some statesman-like behaviour even if it might mean losing your job.

One thing seems clear at the moment, there are no members of what was once an august and respected body - The US Congress - who will be nominated for the "Profiles in Courage" Award.

If there is a Statesman or Woman among them it is well past time for them to come to centre stage.

Jon-Christopher Bua's blogposts for Sky News appear here


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