The second week o f the US government shutdown may end with a deal in sight. At the very least, both sides appear to be trying to work with each other. Negotiations should be held to address the National Debt and the Budget; however, the majority of the GOP should be able to accept a temporary increase on the Debt Ceiling as well as a short-term resolution giving our leaders a realistic amount of time to address the complex Budget issues that use be resolved. After all, the goal of the GOP was to take a stand; they certainly have made their point. Now, they must be willing and able to give meaning to their protest by accomplishing something worth the disruption.
That said, nonpolitical Americans and the outside world are watching Washington with great angst. The US Federal government has great influence in the lives of almost everyone in the world, whether it is apparent or not. As such, the People of the world and foreign governments need to understand why this is happening. The fundamental reason is that the US has reached a critical juncture thanks to a series of unresolved conflicts stemming from years of failing to properly balance the competing interest of the American People, business, and foreign governments.
The world has been rapidly changing since the 1980’s, yet Washington has remained stagnant in many respects, especially when it comes how America views its power. For those Americans who lived through America’s golden years, there is a sense of loss. These individuals often view a scramble to adopt change as the reason the US is losing its privileged position in the world. On the other hand, there are individuals who feel a lack of justice. The older Americans of this type were unable to enjoy the abundant benefits of America’s golden age while the younger version feel the older privileged enriched themselves then rigged the system to their benefit at the expense of everyone else. For these individuals, a lack of proper or sufficient change has created America’s problems.
As a whole, the US government has failed to properly deal with a myriad of issues that the American People needed addressed. At the same time, many of the solutions we were sold on appear to benefit only a select group of individuals while harming everyone else. This unhealthy degenerative dynamic is most apparent when it comes the economy where growing wealth disparity and struggle are driving individuals to take renewed notice of social and political issues. Because there are many groups of individuals with different views on what is wrong and what needs to be done, whether right or wrong, tensions are growing.
In fact, this tension allowed the more radical political elements of the American electorate, such as those represented by Tea Party candidates, to win elections. Although most Americans want the political system to solve problems instead of creating them, our population is uncertain as to what can and must be done. Without a strong push toward specific policy objectives from the populous, Washington insiders are relying on old solutions from their bases that will likely have little constructive effect on our current predicament. In other words, the dysfunction in Washington stems from a lack of knowing what to do. There are problems that need solved, but there are far few really good ideas to support while no one has confidence in our ability to solve problems.
Like any country facing a myriad of internal crises, the United States needs time to work out our issues. Unlike most countries, we are sufficiently developed to avoid mass violence as we see in Middle Eastern nations today. Unfortunately, the world is looking to America to behave as a stabilizing force. Given our need to reorganize, other world powers need to step up to fill the gaps when America must turn inward and cope with internal struggles. In the long run, the world needs to develop a new dynamic where the world powers forge coequal partnerships with America the superpower instead of relying on the US to act as a monolithic power when things need done or go wrong in the world. The nations of the world need to be more proactive when trying to solve problems with US, i.e. take America’s hand, while avoiding the impulse to act aggressively toward the US when we cannot or will not fulfill to interests of a given partner. Countries should learn from Iran’s recent gestures. Instability equals vulnerability and a vulnerable US will respond to aggression with disengagement or reciprocated aggression.
Moreover, America is facing many issues that we have neglected over the years and this is driving internal political conflict. America is not a dying superpower. In dealing with our most pressing issues, we will emerge stronger than ever as properly balancing interests, coping with crises, and dealing with bad habits allows countries, like corporations, to become far more stable. All countries go through these periods. Given the rapid changes in the world, it is no wonder that so many countries have experienced, are experiencing, or soon will experience their own versions of these periodic “mid-life” identify crises. The world just needs a little patience while the People of the world need to proactively seek constructive solutions that balance their and American interests.
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