OPINIONS US shutdown reveals flawed democracy


US shutdown reveals flawed democracy

Global Times

05:42, January 10, 2019


Visitors walk on the South Lawn of the White House during the White House Spring Garden Tour in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, April 16, 2016. (File photo: Xinhua)

The struggle between the Republican and Democratic parties is intensifying over a border wall. Wednesday marks the 19th day of the partial US government shutdown, and the stalemate continues. During US President Donald Trump's national address on Tuesday night, he claimed it was crucial to US national security to build a wall along the southern border. He called on Congress to approve funding so as to end the shutdown. 

Right after the speech, the Democratic Party launched an immediate counterattack. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives and a representative from California, said Trump "must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government." 

Building a wall at the US-Mexico border is not a new problem in the US, but has always been regarded as one of the issues that show the incompatibility of the two parties. Three years after Trump assumed office, the wall has become a focus of whether he can deliver his promises made during election campaigns. Of course it has also become the frontline for Democrats to set obstacles. 

It is obviously no longer a question of to be or not to be, or if US has the money, but about two parties' credibility and approval ratings. 

After the midterm elections, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and started to strike back against the Republicans. Setting stumbling blocks over the issue of the wall is simply their first blow against the GOP. This is an inevitable result of political polarization in which Trump's peculiar character further deteriorated the deadlock. Political confrontation in the US will evolve in an extreme way and in the future there will only be more such increasingly severe struggles. 

The boxing match has started. Politicians in the ring will not stop. 

Today's the US is facing daunting challenges in all spectrums, but its democracy and government are unable to provide the solution to an enlarging income gap, opposition among different classes, worsening partisan polarization. Partisanship is making it more difficult to solve nagging societal issues. The whole of society is finding it more and more difficult to reach a consensus. The government mechanism, designed more than 100 years ago, is malfunctioning.

This drama of building a wall shocks the whole world. Meanwhile, it raises many questions. How could the democratic system that made the US the world's strongest country reach the current impasse? Are US political institutions to blame for relative US decline?

In recent years, whenever a country encounters turmoil, some Americans point the finger at its political system. They will deploy the American democratic system as a reference to diagnose the problems and make prescriptions in accordance with US democratic therapy.

Americans boldly portray their democracy as a global model and sell its standard worldwide. They do not hesitate to force regime change on other countries through military means to expand democracy, even though the US-style democracy has been proved unfitting to many countries. 

Political boxing in Washington will continue, but the audience will gradually realize the reality. The fierce contention between two parties, though peculiar, is also an inevitability of US democracy. The government shutdown has been going on for nearly three weeks and involves 800,000 government employees not being able to work normally. This is too much even for the US. Developing countries that are still exploring a development path can hardly afford it.  

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