Today’s spectacle of a dysfunctional Washington, unable to tend to even its most basic task of protecting the nation’s financial standing, may be appalling. It should not, however, be a surprise.
he inability, after eight months’ warning, to agree on any plan to deal with deficits and raise the nation’s debt ceiling isn’t some freak accident. Instead, it is the logical culmination of two giant trends in American politics: an unresolved debate over the size of government and the growing hyper-partisanship of Congress, particularly the House of Representatives.
Put those two together and you end up with leaders of the two parties speaking, as they were over the weekend, of the need to “defeat them,” as if the two parties were Cold War adversaries rather than partners in running the same nation. President Barack Obama, in a nationally televised speech last night, bluntly acknowledged how bad the picture looks to his countrymen, and to the world: “The American people may have voted for divided government,” he said, “but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.”