• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 9:59am
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 1:13am

As US shows, no political system is safe from those intent to wreck it

Alice Wu says America's political paralysis is a reminder for us that even a generally sound system of party politics is not idiot-proof

American politics is taking an unprecedented worldwide beating for the government shutdown. Of all the derision it has attracted, the headline of an editorial in France's Le Monde newspaper, "Jefferson, wake up, they've gone crazy!" is by far the best. But calling out to the founder of American democracy isn't going to get the government back up and running again. What shut down the US government today is essentially the same as that behind the shutdowns of the Bill Clinton era: dysfunction brought on by party politics.

The brilliance of the Le Monde headline lies in the fact that Jefferson had a hand in the "first party system" that created the role of organised political parties in America, and which subsequently cemented the domination of politics by a two-party system. The two parties that have come to dominate American politics today are direct political descendants of the Jefferson-founded Democratic-Republican Party.

Let us keep in mind that while an ill-designed political system spells doom, political inflexibility, even in two-party politics, can have a paralysing impact

Since their separation, the political divide between the two has only grown. Partisan bickering has gone from bad to worse.

The final hours leading up to the latest paralysis sounded like a seance - some sort of paranormal politicking - with the people's elected representatives quoting founding fathers left and right. Both sides of the Obamacare divide found solace in the founding fathers: George Washington and James Madison, and of course, Jefferson, were all woken up from their long sleep to speak for both sides.

Republicans saw Jefferson as obviously against big government and Democrats saw him as obviously against shutting down government. The fact that these politicians have completely lost the political art of compromise and have, instead, mastered the art of spreading the blame - even to beyond the grave - is perhaps the epitome of how dysfunctional party politics has become in America.

Readers of this column may know that I've long advocated party politics for Hong Kong, without which the chief executive, even if elected by universal suffrage, would be in a political straitjacket and legislators would have little incentive to be either productive or constructive.

As we look at the mess across the Pacific, let us keep in mind that while an ill-designed political system spells doom, political inflexibility, even in two-party politics, can have a paralysing impact. All political systems have their flaws and limitations. It is really up to those with the political currency of power and influence not to exploit them, so as to make things work.

As we contemplate our way forward, the US government shutdown should be a powerful reminder of how democracy can be sucked dry by those who are set on disengaging and disrupting political discourse, process and progress.

Jefferson was a principled and practical politician who was wise enough to be flexible. But what the world has seen of late is political rigidity that alienates the people, casts doubts on the political process, forces rigor mortis to set in on public discourse and puts political progress under lockdown.

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA


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The US has been pushing God out of government from the times just after WWII. The democratic - republic system of governing will only work with a Christian society because people could be trusted to do what they believed was Godly and in the nations over-all best interest. Today people are greedy and look to their own best interests. That is why they are voting themselves money from the government and are not willing to make any deals to bring spending under control. As the Bible points out. The US is not going to be a major player in the world soon to come. Conflicts rage world wide as the Bible said they would. Iran continues it’s alleged program of nuclear weapons & Assad is still in power. Intelligence seems uncertain of when Iran will get the bomb and that looks to be their goal. Israel can’t afford to gamble with this. Assad has allegedly used WMD’s against rebels and therefore cannot be trusted when it comes to other nations. Will the Russian/Syrian agreement do the trick,,, really? If not, I believe the war in Isaiah Chapter 17 may soon take place. Will a strike on Iran be the trigger? I wrote a small 6 page book that speaks of salvation and what I believe the Bible states will take place soon as well as the potential trends I see at this time. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: ****www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next
Except China's system - find out from this UC Bekeley Chinese Venture Capitalist why? ****v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNTc3ODE1ODYw.html
Eric Li is a charlatan and a walking contradiction. A venture capitalist arguing about politics, who says China is better at 'self correction' despite not having an intrinsic mechanism for doing so. Further, he cites the Great leap forward which, according to the research by Dikotter killed 40 million people, as a SUCCESS story of China's ability to 'correct' itself.
If you're going to commend Eric Li's Ted Talk, read Huang Yasheng's response:


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