The crisis in Washington is over — for the time being. The rest of the world can only hope that this time the U.S. will finally overcome its ideological discord.
The U.S. is able to pay again. One might blithely celebrate that, like the hundreds of thousands of federal employees of the still most powerful country on earth and many stock markets worldwide. But all in all, the jubilation comes off cautiously. Clearly a possible worldwide economic crisis has been avoided. And yes, President Barack Obama and his health care program are the winners in the weeks-long battle in Washington about the budget and debt ceiling. One does not need to feel sorry for the political losers from the Republican Party; they just gambled. One doesn’t even have to pity Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner at all. He bet on the wrong horse and didn’t help his party in the process.
In any case, it is a real shame about the $24 billion that the dispute of the politicians cost the U.S. economy, according to calculations by experts. All the good they could have begun with that, creating urgently needed jobs or securing existing ones. The same goes for the intellectual energy that the political elite on the other side of the Atlantic wasted for this ultimately useless quarrel. How many constructive recommendations for the countless problems would they have been able to create during the same period of time?
Lately, the radicals of the tea party have begun to become vexing. With the temporary compromise, these intransigents have found a way to hound the Obama administration again at the turn of the year. Then the drama will begin again. In the end they will have to give in again — but before that they will again lame the last world power.
Obama will cancel trips again and thereby not be able to collaborate on one international problem or another. Critics of the Obama administration may be pleased about that. After all, not all of Washington’s suggested solutions make everyone happy. But as long as the U.S. could significantly contribute to a solution, perhaps in the Middle East conflict or the civil war in Syria, it is regrettable when it does not do this. The list could be continued at will.
That also applies to U.S. national difficulties. As long as the economic giant coughs, the world economy will weaken. Worldwide climate protection will also only make decisive progress when this problem is seriously discussed between New York and Hawaii and particularly when changes are enacted.
The rest of the world must therefore hope that the Americans will finally learn from this crisis and overcome the ideological discord in society as well as the House of Representatives and Senate. Otherwise, the political blockade will further weaken the capability of the U.S. for innovation. The hope is not unfounded. Seventy-five percent of U.S. citizens opposed the budget theatrics. If they turn this annoyance into action at the polling places in next year’s midterm election, this could be the beginning of the end for those putting on the brakes.
Educational System Must Be Reformed
Then the Obama administration could tackle further pressing problems. The educational system must be reformed, the dependency on oil reduced. Crumbling roads and bridges must be repaired; a new immigration law is overdue. Or formulated differently: Only when former bearer of hope Barack Obama succeeds in bringing the voters behind him more strongly than before can he himself become a true victor. And all would profit.
On this side of the Atlantic, politicians and voters could likewise learn from the farce of U.S. politics. Ultimately, the problems of the old and new continents are comparable: Here, too, the consequences of the economic crisis have by far not been overcome; the number of unemployed in the EU nations is much too high. In addition, Europe is far from having a modern and reasonable immigration law, as the many dead in the recent shipwrecks off Lampedusa demonstrate. And in climate goals, primarily the Merkel government has set the wrong example by not resisting the whispers of the automotive lobby.
Yet instead of tackling the problems resolutely, many responsible parties hold fast to established but unconstructive strategies to preserve that which is not sustainable. The indication that voters want it that way is often merely an excuse. Or they lose themselves in the minute details. Even worse are those at the far right-wing fringe who give simple answers to difficult questions. Wise answers are in demand.
And we, the voters, should stop pointing our outstretched index finger at those at the top — that is, politicians and managers. The old expression is valid here: He who does that is always pointing three fingers at himself.