Republicans are setting a precedent which, if followed, would make America ungovernable…If a party with such a modest electoral mandate threatens to shut down government unless the other side repeals a law it does not like, apparently settled legislation will always be vulnerable to repeal by the minority. Washington will be permanently paralysed and America condemned to chronic uncertainty.

The Economist, weighing in on the government shutdown. It’s unbelievable that people who managed to get themselves elected to the US House of Representatives – people who have been playing the game of politics for some time now – don’t see how dangerous of a precedent they’re setting by demanding the repeal of legislation as a condition for keeping the government functional. Wanting to shrink the government is not unreasonable, but shutting down the entire federal government if you don’t get huge policy concessions sure as hell is. You simply can’t maintain that dynamic in a democracy, as this quote points out. 

The only two explanations for this unfathomable ignorance of their chosen profession are both terrifying. The first explanation is that they’re so unreasonable and blinded by ideology that they think this is the right thing to do for America’s long-term prosperity.  The second explanation is even more terrifying: they know exactly what they’re doing, and America’s electoral and political systems have now been warped to the point that they actually encourage this type of obstinate and radical behavior. Whichever is true (and sadly, I think it is the second), the outlook for America is grim unless one of these two problems – extreme polarization or institutional sclerosis – is fixed.


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