I Still Don’t Understand The Government Shutdown

There was all this talk swirling around of the government shutdown over at the United States, but knowing me, of course I had no idea what was going on. Thank goodness I stumbled across a site that explained in simple terms (with the help of .gifs from a show named Toddlers & Tiaras) what the shutdown was all about. However, even though it tried quite patiently to break it down into child-friendly words, I still didn’t quite get it. I’m not a Political Science person.

Governments all over the world do very strange and silly things and get in the news for a while, but it seems the USA is home to silly things that are legal, like filibusters, which apparently involve somebody talking and talking for so long that no one gets to vote, and reading Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham. I mean, how do they even do this with a straight face? How can they condone and accept such inefficient and laughable practices?

And the whole deal with the Democrats versus the Republicans. It’s almost as if all politicians are either Democrats or Republicans. But what if you disagree with both parties? What if your views align with the Democrats sometimes and the Republicans in others? Both the Democrats and the Republicans seem to be extremist people, with that one fixed solution to particular problems, and they will never ever agree with each other. It’s like they have to consciously divide themselves into 2 factions so that they aren’t confused over where they stand, because each individual member probably doesn’t even have much of an opinion over matters.

Governments all over the world do silly things. Taiwan’s parliamentary meetings nearly always involve politicians throwing chairs at each other and slamming hands on tables. Japan’s politicians resign whenever anything, albeit minor, goes wrong. Singapore has been ruled by the same political party since its independence, for 50+ years. Most of the time, citizens don’t know the details, or don’t care, because it’s not as if they can stop the nonsense that goes on, or change the law altogether into something simpler and less, well, political.

I wonder how the government shutdown will end if both sides refuse to concede. Couldn’t President Obama step in, or the Prime Minister, and enforce his will? Perhaps if so it will be seen as authoritarianism, and that is antithetical to Americans. But anyone can see from a mile away that if somebody doesn’t step in and wield the power to make a decision once and for all, the conflict will never end. Neither side will back down. Maybe authoritarianism isn’t bad then. In a sense, some people will always be glad, and others not so much, for every decision. It’s still fairer than this stalemate where neither side is satisfied.

What does your government do that you find peculiar? Do you think your government’s the sanest among all the political powers in the world? Will there ever be a chance of a government shutdown, where apparently unimportant civil servants get to have a holiday?

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