Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mutual Weakness in Washington

The United States, the most powerful country in the world, must appear hapless to those looking in from the outside. Our democracy, our pride and joy, lies hogtied by sectarian conflict, much like the fractured Iraqi society. Our sects, Republicans and Democrats, are locked in a combat of words rather than bullets, but the outcome is similar: the war of words is preventing any movement toward national reconciliation and progress.

It's at times like this that the British system of parliamentary democracy looks decidedly superior. Our president has the approval of roughly one-third of the citizenry, yet he retains the immense power of his office. The supposed oversight function of congress is emasculated by the rules of our constitution. We citizens stand on the sidelines, powerless to change the status quo.

In my view, the current situation is dangerous for our country. The executive branch, weighed down by a history of misjudgments, lies, and imperial hubris, has little credibility and less political capital. Its reaction time is slowed by the need to convince the people that it has actionable facts and a plan not overly influenced by politics. The legislative branch is so fractured and focused on 2008 that it has no interest in the now.

Why is the current situation dangerous? Because those who are interested in overtaking the economic and political power of the U.S. are not constrained as we currently are. Every year that we fail to deal with our own internal issues makes them relatively stronger. For example, the baby steps being taken in the name of "national energy policy" are music to the ears of our offshore petroleum suppliers. Our competitors love it when our own system creates weakness in our country and reduces our influence on world affairs. Unfortunately, that's what we have today - mutual weakness in Washington.

1 comment:

Dave said...

You're right; but, we're hell on wheels in a crisis, except when the response to the crisis is to invade someone for no real good reason, with no idea of what the result will be and no plan to deal with the totally unexpected result.