In late October 2023, it is difficult to resist the temptation to drink more, to skip headlines or on-line “breaking news” or to avoid those friends who insist on talking politics and/or foreign policy. Beyond their cults and tribes, most Americans today don’t agree on much of anything.
We are told the country is running out of money because the national debt and interest payments are much too high. But, then also, that the economy is recovering surprisingly well from the pandemic and our GDP could rise to $26 Trillion. The US, the President recently said, is the only country powerful enough to stabilize and defend global democracies, fighting for their very existence. Or, others in America maintain, we should avoid intervening in foreign conflicts because: (a) can’t afford it, (b) solve domestic problems first and (c) we make the situations worse.
Compromise in the Congress, even within its party conferences, is now considered by many a relic of a sunnier, distant past. Today, a number of politicians believe, it reflects only weakness. Thus, for the first time in US history, the House majority has been unable to elect a speaker from among its members. The result: all Federal legislation has been stopped for almost 2 weeks.
If this cannot be resolved quickly, the 12 funding bills required to support the US Government through FY 24, will not be passed, forcing it to shut down in November. And President Biden’s very recent Congressional proposal to provide $106 Billion in aid for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and SW Border security, will be introduced, but possibly not considered or voted upon.
The traditional internal American unity behind national foreign policies appears to have ended or at least to have taken a long break. Adding to this problem, is the substitution by some elected officials of rigid policy positions and ego satisfaction for their sworn duty to execute their Constitutional responsibilities for the Commonweal. Taken together, they pose a serious threat to the continued viability of the United States.
What to do? The US Electorate should take a communal deep breath and focus on this situation, understand its current and future implications and demand the two historically dominant political parties and their representatives at the local, state and national levels get back to work on their behalf, not their own.
Tom Timberman is an Army vet, lawyer, former senior Foreign Service officer, adjunct professor at GWU, and economic development team leader or foreign government advisor in war zones. He is the author of four books, lectures locally and at US and European universities. He and his wife are 24 year residents of Kent County.