Government shutdown: An intrinsic failure of democracy

13 Oct 2013

It’s quite perverse really: one faction of one party controlling one half of one branch of government, through nothing other than gerrymandering really; shutting down the entire government, after holding one law hostage.

As of 1st October, parts of the US government shut down owing to the failure of Congress to agree on appropriations to fund the government. The Republican run House would only agree to a budget deal if major Obamacare provisions were struck down, whilst the Democratic held Senate unequivocally stated that Obamacare would not be up for negotiation: not such an easy gap to bridge, even if the politicians were trying.

It’s estimated that 800,000 federal employees now face unpaid leave.


What can be seen in America is all round negligence; but the intrinsic failure of US democracy doesn’t stop there, not by a long way. This one aforementioned faction, the infamous Tea Party, is funded largely by ‘special interests’. Essentially multinational corporations buying into the political system- after being allowed to do so by the unelected Supreme Court- in the ruling Citizens United Vs. The FEC. This reduced the cap that the McCain-Feingold law imposed on campaign finance donations by big business that had existed since 2002: a democratic law passed by Congress (easier said than done) overturned by the unelected. 

Either way, ‘the one per cent’ have their hands on Washington, and after a long hard year of making sure nothing passes through Congress, they’ve seen to it that their American Taliban hold hostage the government as leverage to repeal ostensibly the piece of ‘world ending legislation’, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). 

The unfathomable here is what the Republicans are fighting so hard against. Maybe and just maybe if the fight were over appropriations for an unjust military intervention, the call to shut down government might be merited. In reality, Republicans are stomping their feet like bratty children because the federal government are allowing millions who are uninsured, living in poverty, to have premiums made affordable. 

Being objective, the effects of the shutdown are meek- a slight drop in GDP and a stock market decline around 2% are the main nationwide outcomes; the real issue is whether government will be reconvened in time for ‘debt ceiling showdown’, if not, the US will be forced to default on all its debts; plunging the world into some sort of cataclysmic recession- because we hadn’t had enough of that fun. 

The Affordable Care Act is law. Passed by Congress in 2010 and signed by the man elected in 2008 on the premise of passing a bill such as this. Upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011 and re-affirmed by the re-election of President Obama in 2012. Inexplicable stupidity, delinquency and intrinsic failure of democracy has brought the US to the brink over this law.  There’s only one side responsible for this quagmire, and it’s the pernickety, juvenile party. The party of anti-intellectuals. The ‘take us back to 1776’ party. Government problems are the fault of a broken democracy and an evil Republican Party.

By Adam Isaacs

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Want to respond? Submit an article.


We provide a space for reasoned arguments and constructive disagreements.

Help to improve the quality of political debate – support our work today.