Wednesday, October 9, 2013

America Is Already Politically Bankrupt: "The Blocked World Power"

The Statue of Liberty in New York is
currently closed due to the government shutdown

Says title of the article (and the described picture) by Charly Wilder in Spiegel Online International in which a review of German commentators on the United States government shutdown has been presented. One of the illustrative aftereffects given in the article includes a picture of The Statue of Liberty in New York which is currently lying closed due to the government shutdown. 

"The picture on the cover of German business daily Handelsblatt yesterday fairly well encapsulates the way the US federal government shutdown is being perceived across the Atlantic," writes Charly. The Statue of Liberty stands bound in chains, her torch hand hanging listlessly by her side. Across it reads the headline: "The Blocked World Power." 

Charly has quoted the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying: "What Washington currently offers up is a spectacle, but one in which the spectators feel more like crying." This editorial also says that the shutdown is the result of many factors, both ideological and political, and involves huge risk for the US. According to this editorial, "the political establishment in Washington appears to have got rotten to the core driving the world power into a budgetary state of emergency." People are wondering how things could have been allowed to get to this point.

By and large, the Germans describe the shutdown as a "specifically American problem," and a similar government shutdown is ruled out in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently discussing Germany's federal budget with her prospective coalition partner, the center-left Social Democrats.

According to Charly, Germany's right-leaning daily Die Welt has published an article titled : "The whole world pays for America's shutdown," in which Anton Böner, president of the Federal Association for German Wholesalers and Foreign Trade, has warned : "If the Americans shoot themselves in the foot right now, it is highly dangerous for the entire global economy, and of course for the German export economy."

Gregor Peter Schmitz
The German press, by and large, blames the Republicans for the current deadlock. Gregor Peter Schmitz of Spiegel Online calls their party as 'Kamikaze Party' or "Cocktail Party." Attributing the crisis to the political culture, Schmitz opines that America's mercenary political culture is responsible for the creation of such circumstances in which "a brigade of Republicans conduct themselves like a bunch of Berlusconis - as enemies of the state from within who want to cripple the country because that's the desire of their conservative voters at home."

Charly quotes Nuremberg's Nachrichten as writing: "There are fundamentalists within the world's largest democracy : The hardline wing of the Republican Party is once more crippling the United States. The Tea Party movement does not engage in democracy, but in dogmatism."  Charly also quotes a commentator writing in Collogne's Stadt-Anzeiger about the Republicans: "Here are fundamentalists at work who hold up their country to ridicule to advance their pure doctrine. What a tragedy!" Munich's national Süddeutsche Zeitung offers a slightly more depressing take, writes Charly.

According to this paper, since last few years, the United States - one of the world's oldest democracies - has been the victim of what can be called as politics of 'self-destruction.' The great tragedy is that this work of destruction isn't being wrought by enemies of democracy or greedy lobbyists or sinister major party donors. It is being done by the very people who are supposed to preserve it: the voters, the parties and the politicians."

The Republicans who have brought Washington to standstill are repeatedly and democratically elected by voters and given a mandate to block. The parties themselves are fomenting an increasingly radicalized culture that deepens political, societal and geographic divisions in the country. There are very few politicians in America who are willing or capable of thinking beyond their own electoral constituencies. Charly ends his post with this paper's conclusion: "At the moment, Washington is fighting over the budget and nobody knows if the country will still be solvent in three weeks,"  "What is clear, though, is that America is already politically bankrupt."

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