Growing disgust at the political fiasco that has become entrenched in Washington is what brought Donald Trump to power in the US with a promise to “drain the swamp”. Instead, he wallowed in it.
Dysfunctionality is encountered around every corner and even on the straights.
The debt ceiling has been raised almost routinely ever since it was first introduced in 1939. When the limit was about to be reached earlier this month, Senate Republicans, with their filibuster power, agreed to increase it only sufficient to December 3, with a declaration that they would not be prepared to increase it any further. No substantive issues, such as fiscal policy or deficit reduction, were raised. It is simply raw politics.
So, come December 3, America will again face the possibility of default and a substantial shutdown of government that would have ricochet effects across the world in terms of higher interest rates and reduced investments flows. Are these guys serious?
Republican senators are determined to block the appointment of US ambassadors. There are 81 countries currently without US ambassadors. Of 69 nominations submitted by President Joe Biden only four have been approved, and only for sentimental reasons — two being former senators and the other two being the widows of former senators. The stalemate has nothing to do with the suitability of the nominees. It is simply raw politics. Are these guys serious?
Almost a year since he was elected, Biden's agenda and his promises to the voters remain paralysed. The Democrats can overcome the Republican opposition, but they have been unable to overcome their own internal disagreements.
Democratic Senator Krysten Sinema has opposed any additional taxes on super-rich corporations and individuals to meet the costs, completely indifferent to Warren Buffett's expressed embarrassment that he paid a lower rate of tax than his secretary. Is this lady, who so harshly criticised Trump's tax breaks for the rich a few years ago, really serious?
The Democrats have not been able to work out their policy differences. It appears there was insufficient consultation among them when the programme was being designed and the hauling-and-pulling in the public media is decidedly unhelpful. Birds of a feather clearly don't always flock together. The paralysis in Washington jeopardises the Democrats' chances this week of retaining the governorship of Virginia — a state that Biden won by a margin of over 10 per cent — and the outcome will be seen as an indication of what is to come in the midterm elections next year. Are these guys serious?
Here in Jamaica we are accustomed to the Government, through the Ministry of Labour, intervening as honest broker to provide conciliation services to resolve industrial disputes between workers and employers. Two weeks ago the US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited striking John Deere workers to declare his support for them. Not to be outdone, the secretary of labour last week did the same thing with striking Kelloggs workers — two Cabinet members joining a picket line! Are these guys serious?
The vacancy in global leadership has only worsened with the departure of Angela Merkel. The free-for-all which emanated under Trump seems likely to continue.
The optics of the chaos in Washington would certainly not have been lost on America's allies when they gathered at the G20 summit this past weekend and they must be musing, “Didn't he say America was back?”
Bruce Golding served as Jamaica's eighth prime minister from September 11, 2007 to October 23, 2011.
The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Jamaica Observer.