The drama and the shenanigans of the past few weeks have, for now, played themselves out. The latest installment of the battle of the Fiscal Cliff is passed while the combatants retire to their trenches to load up for the next round. Democracy is a messy affair, but this American life, has slowly broken the barrier of messiness and hurls the nation into catastrophe.
The halls of power in Washington, D.C. have become such a traffic jam that nothing significant, nothing of note makes it through without it being a squeaker. I tell you, not even an emergency vehicle can traverse this traffic tie-up without one fearing for its timely passage.
But who is to blame? While there is enough blame to go around, the blame here has to be disproportionately tilted toward one party, and that’s this Republican Party in Congress.
It is no secret that President Obama campaigned on the pivotal items that were part of these fiscal negotiations. He won a resounding victory, and as many historians and pundits will solemnly admit, elections have consequences.
But as we have seen throughout the presidency of Mr. Obama, a select group of Republicans, mostly in the House, have made it their life work to thwart and obstruct any agenda of the president, no matter how popular it is. It is a minority that has chosen to hold the whole hostage.
One thing was made ever the more obvious in these past talks, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, does not and cannot feign to control his own caucus. The Tea Partiers, as they are called, are an unruly bunch of legislators who have no interest in governing and refuse to be governed.
By all estimation, this 112th Congress has been the most unproductive legislative session in modern times. But for these Republicans, this is welcomed news. Through their hyper-individualistic lenses, they see government as the ultimate source of everything evil in civil society—so, the less functional government is, the more joyous they are.
Unfortunately, this is ruinous. There are many goods and services that the individual cannot provide using his or her own power and resources. Communal intervention, thus, becomes necessary. For instance, part of this debate is the insistence of these Republicans to cut and slash government spending in immediate and drastic fashion, all in the name of deficit reduction—forgetting that in such times as this, when the nation is undergoing an anemic recovery and the private sector is sluggish in spurring growth, government, through spending must be the driver of growth in the short term.
But don’t tell that to these Republicans, no amount of peace offering will do till they hold the nation hostage to their purist beliefs. An ungovernable nation is a nation in freefall.
The U.S. is still the indispensable power in the world. It will never become a failed state such as Somalia. But if the current trajectory continues, where compromise and cooperation in government are cuss words and warrant capital punishment, it is bound to suffer some ill-effects of such a shameful reality.
Somalia, for many reasons, is mostly the way it is because it is ungovernable. If the U.S. remains ungovernable, I am convinced it has begun its long trek into a dark night of decline. It will not cease to be a power in the world, but it will cease to be the indispensable superpower while other nations who can get their acts together leapfrog it. This is a fact of life. Empires go from obscurity to greatness, then to complacency, to apathy, and then back to obscurity. It is a cycle of life. The great Roman Empire can attest a thing or two to this.
There are big decisions to be made for the continued sustenance of this country. Decisions to be made on debt, domestic spending (including entitlement programs and infrastructure development), gun control, immigration, foreign aid and many others. These decisions can only be secured if calm heads and compromising spirits prevail. A divided house shall not stand.
For the love of God, dear intransigent Republicans, do not send this state over the cliff…do not “cliff” the homeland.