Never waste a good crisis

October 11, 2013

The events in Washington over the last couple of weeks have shown two things: how a system of checks and balances government can be extremely frustrating and get nothing done, and how the Republican Party is in desperate need of a major change.

The guiding principle of the U.S. Constitution is to never allow any individual or party to get too much power. The ideal is to have a President and Congress at odds with each other so that one ideology is not given a preferential position.  Thus, what we have seen over the last few weeks in Capitol Hill is, in essence, exactly what the Founding Fathers orchestrated back in the late 18th century.

That’s the history lesson out of the way – what about today? Even with a checks and balances system, society and the economy need to be able to trust that the U.S. government can be effective and won’t shut down just because some men and women in Congress are lacking in key negotiating skills. The events since the start of this month have shown that this is sadly not possible with the U.S. political establishment in its current form, and one side is being blamed much more than the other for the current deadlock: the Republican Party.

It has taken a dramatic shift to the right in the last 5 years, far more than the Democrats have shifted to the left, and the number of moderates in the U.S. Congress has dramatically declined. This is also evident in the drop in bipartisan bills, which have experienced a sharp decline in recent years. In this environment, the extreme right is drowning out the moderate element in the Republican Party who may want to negotiate with their counterparts the other side of the political aisle.

In recent weeks the Republicans have taken things to such an extreme that – shock horror – something good may happen, and we could see real and much-needed political reform. This is a light at the end of a dark tunnel. A dysfunctional Congress has led to many people, at home and abroad, to question if the U.S. government can face the most pressing challenges of the day.

One idea that is starting to gain some traction is a potential split in the Republican Party with the moderates setting up their own party. A third party in U.S. politics would be a good idea as it could provide the bridge needed to ensure that no single ideology takes precedence or takes the government hostage until it gets its way.

I may not be American, but if I was a Republican I would push for a new party based on traditional Republican principals but which also respects the views coming from other sides. Often it can feel like the moderates are crowded out because they don’t shout loud enough. However, moderate Republicans are starting to get antsy. While a new force in U.S. politics is not going to happen overnight, the Republicans could find they have no choice but to split if they get a drubbing at next year’s mid-term elections.

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