The hullabaloo resulting from last month’s federal government’s partial shutdown showed us that Congress has finally gone over the edge, devolving into never-ending adolescent theatrics as opposed to coming to some kind of adult compromise. By demanding that appropriations for funding “Obamacare” be removed from the budget, the ultraconservative wing of the Republican Party knew that it would precipitate a stalemate and that the legislature’s primary job of passing a budget would be impossible to fulfill. These politicians are, I assume, intelligent people, not outright dolts as would be easy to conclude from their actions, so there is something more going on behind the curtains.
One underlying issue is that the Republicans have no effective leadership. Simultaneously, the president is unable to get his directives approved through his own party’s congressional members — witness his inability to neither mobilize military action in Syria nor win the approval of his first choice, Larry Summers, to be the next Federal Reserve chairman. Both sides can therefore be characterized as aimless. This is not the first time that a vacuum in the American political structure has been taken hostage by a small but extremely focused minority to change the country’s direction. It happened in the 1850s regarding slavery.
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