News / USA

Analysts: Is Dysfunction the New Normal in US Politics?

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens as President Barack Obama speaks to media, Sept. 3, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens as President Barack Obama speaks to media, Sept. 3, 2013.
As the U.S. political crisis over funding the federal government moves into a second week, some analysts are wondering whether paralyzing gridlock and dysfunction have become “the new normal” in American politics. 
 
Frustration among the principals on both sides appears to be growing as the government shutdown drags on here in Washington. 
 
Republican House Speaker John Boehner is hoping the shutdown will eventually bring President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies to the negotiating table over issues that include the president’s health care law and government spending in general.
 
“This is not some damn game!  All I am asking for is let us sit down like the American people would expect us and talk to one another,” Boehner said recently. 
 
But the Democrats, including President Obama, continue to resist, angry that a faction of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives is willing to shut down the federal government in hopes of forcing concessions from the White House.
 
“You do not negotiate by putting a gun to the other person’s head.  Or worse yet, by putting a gun to the American people’s head by threatening a shutdown,” Obama said.
 
The health care law, also referred to as ‘Obamacare’, went into effect in 2010.  Republicans have tried and failed several times to either defund the law or block it.  It has also become a rallying cry for conservative Tea Party groups around the country, groups that Republican lawmakers now depend on to get elected.
 
University of Virginia analyst Larry Sabato says the ongoing fight over the president’s health care law can be traced back to the fact that it passed the Congress only with Democratic votes.
 
“When you have that kind of partisan split about a massive new program like Obamacare, you really are guaranteeing continued partisan division.  That is not to justify what the Republicans are doing now.  It is simply to say it is an explanation for why this has developed the way it has,” Sabato said.
 
Conservative Republicans say their willingness to shut down the government reflects the view of most of their constituents who are demanding a more aggressive stance against President Obama.
 
Democratic political strategist Stan Greenberg notes a deep sense of Republican frustration and anger in a recent survey.
 
“They think Barack Obama has succeeded in passing his agenda.  He has fooled people and passed his socialist agenda and they believe the problem in Washington is not gridlock.  They believe the problem in Washington is Republicans have not been strong enough in stopping him from succeeding in changing the country,” Greenburg  said.
 
On the other side, Democrats appear united in support of the president and his health care law and regard the government shutdown as an attempt at political extortion.
 
Some political analysts worry that this increasing trend of high stakes showdowns will become the “new normal” in U.S. politics.
 
John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington says both parties are focused more on shoring up their political base of support than reaching out to the other side.
 
“The country has realigned.  There are many strongly conservative districts and there are many strongly liberal districts.  So most of Congress can go home and listen to people who are on their side.  It is much more difficult than in the past, which was something more of a coalitional party system.  Today it is much more ideological,” Fortier said
 
There is also concern that this new hyper-partisan era in American politics could have unforeseen effects on the national economy as well as state and local governments.
 
Peter Brown with the Quinnipiac Polling Institute says there are a number of questions that could be answered by voters next year.
 
“What does it do for the economy?  Does it make the economy better?  Does it make the economy worse?  Does it not have an effect on the economy?  Voters are very unlikely to vote based on the shutdown in 13 months, but they are likely to vote on their view of the economy.”
 
The 2014 congressional midterm elections are little more than a year away and will offer voters their next opportunity to either demand a change in how the nation goes about the business of governing or to accept more of the same from its political leaders for the indefinite future.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Steven from: USA
October 09, 2013 12:17 PM
Why would the president of the United States try to purposely hurt the American people? Well, in 2013 this is done in order to score political points and force the opposition in to doing what you want them to do. A few days ago, an angry Park Service ranger publicly admitted that he and his fellow rangers have been ordered to “make life as difficult for people as we can” during this government shutdown. That Park Service ranger would never have received such an order unless it came from the very top.



Apparently the Obama administration plans to cause as much pain as possible until Obama gets everything that he is demanding. In many cases, it is actually going to cost far more money to put up barricades and use guards to keep Americans from visiting open air memorials, driving on roads, and fishing in bodies of water than it would to put up a “closed” sign and simply go home. As you will see from the examples posted below, the Obama administration is being extremely spiteful and vindictive. And the level of hypocrisy that we are now witnessing is hard to fathom. For instance, the National Mall has been totally closed to the public, but the Obama administration is specifically reopening it for a massive pro-immigration rally that will benefit the Democrats politically. The abuse of power that is taking place is absolutely staggering, and the American people need to demand that those that are abusing it be held accountable when all of this is over.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs