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The United States: The Politics of Polarization and Antagonism PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 05 October 2013 12:28

During the last two months, I have been concentrating on the highly inflammable and exploding situation in the middle east, the non-ending slaughter in Syria, its more than two and a half years of civil war which has already claimed more than a hundred thousand deaths and an untold number of injured with the displacement of almost five millions of its citizens internally or forced to seek shelter in one or the other of nearby countries. The continuing mayhem in Egypt in the aftermath of the coup d’état which removed president Mohammed Mursi who was the candidate of the powerful Moslem brotherhood after only on year in office who never accepted the rule of the authority which placed by the military and have been fighting it ever since, and the disintegrating and falling apart of Iraq as a result of the recent war there and the ongoing fighting between, the Sunnis and the Shiites the two main components of the Iraqi Muslims is the main religion in the country, which is nothing less than a civil war, and now with the Sudan following in the steps of its sisters, when for the last few day that unfortunate country was gripped in a huge conflict between the government which has been in power for more than thirty years and its opponents, a vicious quarrel which has already claimed a very large number of casualties, but today I am talking about the crisis which has been gripping the Unites States during the last week as a result of the failure by the politicians to legislate a stop gap measure allowing the continuing financing of the activities of the federal government, a failure which stemmed from the very serious state of polarization in this country which is generating a state of appalling antagonism and ill feeling between its two main political parties.

The American society is highly polarized and divided, the country looks as if it is made up of two separate entities, the two political leaderships  are at loggerhead with each other, who are unable to agree on anything as if they are on a war path, they seem to have forgotten the first rule in politics, compromise, and they are behaving like spoiled teenagers at a time when this country is having some very serious economic, social and problems, the solution of which is their  constitutional, moral and ethical duty. A duty which they seem to have abandoned and they are spending their time for which they are paid by the American people in bickering and squabbling and leaving the problems to fester and intensify and become increasingly difficult to solve and a very good example of this quandary is their totally antagonistic attitude to the so called Obama care, President Obama’s signature health care reform law which has been passed on and was signed into law in 2010, by the democrat’s labors alone without any support and against a very high wall of opposition from the republicans, who swore after its enacting to do everything in their power to repeal it or prevent its implementation.

The United States spends thousands of billions of dollars on providing care and medical help to the people, but this system has become a black hole, this country is spending more to get less than just about every other country, and everyone thought it has to be reformed. Candidate Obama made it very clear during the presidential campaign that it is going to be on the top of his priorities if elected, he said our health system is rife with skewed incentive, change is imperative and urgent. Obama was elected president and one of his earliest acts was a bill to congress which was called the affordable health act, but from the first moment this attempt by the president was faced by a solid wall of opposition by the conservatives who opposed every step during its passage through congress, I would like to make it very clear now that I have never been able to fathom their position, but this is beside the point, because what happened was that the president and his party [the democrats] went ahead and finally succeeded in legislating it with the president signing it into law in October 2010 against its total rejection of the law by the republicans, and from then on it had a very bumpy ride, many republican congressional members were hell-bent on defund it even though it is law, and they won’t agree to fund it unless it is defunded or delayed for a year , and the democrats –in congress and the white house- are firmly committed to just the opposite, implementing it, and both sides were polarized and uncompromising in their positions, and this why we are now in this incredible impasse.

On the first of October which is the beginning of the new fiscal year, congress has to approve a stop gap to the budget for the next year, but the republicans insisted that the funds needed to finance the implementation of Obamacare which would open enrolments on the first of October should not be included in the budget, which was rejected by the democrats , the democratic leader of the senate said we wren’ t changing Obamcare, and both sides toughened out their positions and  blamed the other side for the impasse, the two sides were sticking to their belligerent and non-compromising stances , and with polls showing that voters would blame the republicans for the shutdown the democrats were becoming even more determined and aggressive with the republicans branding the democrat’s attitude an act of breathtaking arrogance and brinkmanship, but in reality both sides were equally irresponsible , which threatened a very disastrous shutdown of key federal government agencies when on Tuesday hundreds of thousands of government employees would be facing the prospect of being sent home for the first time in 17 years.

One of the saddest aspects of this crisis has been the way the politicians on both sides of the polarized society and some of the country’s leaders are dealing with it, they don’t seem to be giving it the required attention and time, what they did was small halfhearted attempts to deal with, all of them failed, the republicans look and feel trapped, they made demands that they knew wouldn’t be met, rather than be accused of weakness and betrayal by their own hardliners, on Tuesday, the president blamed the house of representative for the stalemate, he also said this shutdown was completely preventable, on Monday the republican house speaker john Boehner suggested that both should agree to what is known as conference bur the idea was immediately rejected by the democrats. This drama is a mind boggling exercise, one is totally baffled by the behavior of these people, all of them, these are the cream of the leadership of the country, they are privileged by the people who elected them to protect them and defend their rights, but they have not honored their obligations and promises to those who elected them , they have sworn an oath of loyalty and adherence to the constitution, but what they did was unconstitutional , they failed to solve the impasse over the budget, and one minute into Tuesday the first day in October the government was shut down.

The shutting down of the federal government is sending more than 700,000 federal workers home and closing down national parks, museums, federal buildings and services, half of the 800.000 civilian employees of the defense dept. are  of the civilian employees of the defense department are going to stop work. The majority of the workers in every governmental dept. are sent home.

The Smithsonian institution, 19 museums and galleries, the national zoo and many national parks, and the statue of liberty will close with many other federal agencies and departments.

200 young kids, ten of them suffering from cancer were supposed to participate in a clinical trial by the NIH were told that their tests are not going to be performed until the crisis is resolved.

Pension and veterans' benefit will be delayed, visa and passport applications will go unprocessed.

The shutdown is costing the country 300 million dollars a day.

I am going to stop now, this piece is going very soon into my blog, I cannot imagine what is going to happen next, but I hope that our leaders are aware of the enormity and seriousness of what is happening, and that they should seriously start talking to each other and negotiate. The alternative is bleak and very grim.

Najeeb Hanoudi

Friday, October 4, 2013

Southfield/ Michigan

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