Shutdown exposes ugly underbelly of US polity

Angry Twitter reactions tell the story of America's rage most eloquently. "Due to the shutdown, NASA's asteroid detection team isn't working. If an asteroid hits, let's hope it lands on Congress," said a tweet.

And a diehard Republican supporter felt that it is time now to express her embarrassments. She wrote, "Do you realize that your time in Congress is running short. You will be voted out.  Embarrassed to be a Republican right now!"

And the media is equally riled. The nation's biggest newspapers have gone overboard in expression their disapproval of the shutdown which has been foisted on the Americans over 800,000 federal employees by a group of barmy Republican lawmakers. The USA Today, perhaps the largest circulated daily in the United States, has been more than unequivocal in its condemnation of the shutdown.

"This shutdown, the first in 17 years, isn't the result of two parties acting equally irresponsibly. It is the product of an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, controlled by a disaffected base that demands legislative hostage-taking in an effort to get what it has not been able to attain by the usual means: winning elections."

New York Daily News slammed the Congress over the shutdown and branded it as a 'House of Turds.' To describe Congress is such a manner is perhaps a bit harsh and indeed an exaggeration. The expression was deliberately chosen to prove a point and to convey how palpable is America's anger against its political class.

And if that is the objective of calling the US Congress a house of turds we cannot but agree with New York Daily News because "The elderly veterans who stormed the closed World War II Memorial in Washington on Tuesday showed more class, sense and spine than all of the Republicans who led Congress into shutting down the federal government."

Republicans perhaps made the worst move in history to force the shutdown on America. It has been a political hara-kiri which will haunt the party longer than it can now imagine. By trying to legitimise blackmailing as a political tactics the Republican nuts have jumped off a cliff. With the midterm US Congressional elections due next year America isn't expected to re-elect these blackmailers. The GOP has only dug its own grave.

Politically, President Obama and Democrats may shore up huge gains from this Republican stupidity. But together, the dumbs have put an entire nation into coma.

Worse is the credibility plummeting America's political class suffered due to the shutdown.

According to a new CNN poll, the approval rating of Congress in the wake of the shutdown has gone done to probably all time low — ten per cent.

In fact, the US Congress has become so dysfunctional that it has now become the worst advertisement for democracy world over. Dictators would now be encouraged to cite example of the United States to buttress their point against democracy. The shutdown is more than an outrage forced on the Americans because a small cabal of lunatics let bedlam lose.

They have put much more than America's health and environment in jeopardy. They have betrayed one of the strongest democracies in the world, weakened its basic principle of bipartisanship. America's political class, most so the Republicans, have shown scorn for their national constitution. And, once again, in their exhibition of disdain for basic democratic values, American politicians have shown how exceptional they are and their country is.

President Obama, with his claim that the United States is exceptional, stands vindicated.
Speaker of the United States House of Representative and a Republican John Andrew Boehner may try to blame the US president for failing to negotiate on Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act, more popular as Obamacare.

But those 800,000 furloughed federal employees and million more common Americans affected by the shutdown are not buying that. In their reprehensive behaviour, in holding the nation at ransom, in betraying their voters, in getting paid while 800,000 federal employees suffer pay cuts and in forcibly shutting down a plethora of services, researches and amenities these back stabbers have not done their basic responsibility to the nations for which their voters elected them to the Congress.

They have tarnished America's image beyond any quick recovery. They have defiled the sanctity of the House; made governance and democracy dysfunctional; expressed utter disregard for their voters.

A satirical online post reflected what the world today thinks about the United States. "The capital's rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. … The current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime's ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people."

This has raised a fundamental question all over the world. Could America ever turn into a failed state or at least into an unreliable state or could a serious matter like governance of the world's largest economy be left with its politicians or could we now depend on this country for any global solution?

British broadcaster and publisher Andrew Neil resonated what the world thinks of the United States. We have seen dysfunctional governments in Italy or Greece and in some banana republic in Asia, South America and Africa. But the incredible shutdown on the US federal government has left us stunned. "If America, of all countries, can't service it (debts), we are potentially into a financial crisis much bigger than the one sparked off by Lehman Brothers."

A scary potential is thus fast crystallising and all in the name of defunding Obamacare which is sure to bring in more welfare than harm in time. Oh! How exceptional the United States is indeed!

The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman


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