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.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

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    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.

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