A very interesting article by Max Hastings in today's Mail which I would urge my American e-pals to read and comment upon. In essence, Hastings suggests that America is reaching a break-point after which it will simply cease to be governable. And he lays the blame for this forthoming catastrophe fair and square upon the shoulders of the Republican party and their ginger group, the so-called 'Tea Party':
The scariest part is that, even if somehow America struggles out of this crisis without precipitating a global financial disaster — which we should not take for granted — we are getting a preview of the likely pattern of American politics.
So sclerotic is the system, so mountainous the obstacles to reform, that the greatest democracy on earth looks set to shuffle and stumble towards the future, rather than march boldly as its allies hope and need.
The shutdown crisis shows that democratic freedoms, when brutishly abused, can produce consequences almost as scary as those of tyranny.
The United States of America looks frighteningly close to being ungovernable. [My emphasis]
To be fair, he does lay some of the blame onto President Obama whom he describes, accurately according to everything I read about him, as being a cold, detached president unable and unwilling to indulge in the very necessary business of mixing and schmoozing with political friend and foe alike in order to get deals done. That said, Hastings turns his fire on the Republicans, in effect, accusing them of being unsophisticated 'hayseeds' completely out of touch with the modern world who "believe they have the right, duty and even power to roll back the 21st century". He reminds us of the far-flung nature of American politics in which Congressmen spend considerable amounts of time flying back to their home States to keep well in touch with their supportive (they hope!) electorate. In yet another example of that creepy coincidence thing which seems to be pursuing me, only yesterday I read this in Richard Holmes's superb single-volume biography of Churchill:
What he [Churchill] did not fully appreciate was that the dominance of the East Coast oligarchy represented by FDR was tenuous. The USA of the 1940s was stil 48 rather introspective states lightly overseen by a small Federal government. Washington was a small southern town that came awake for half the year, wherreas London was the largest metropolis inthe world and had been an imperial capital for centuries. Winston did not make sufficient allowance for the limitations on FDR's power, nor his for his need to mobilise public opinion in order to obtain what he wanted from Congress. [In the Footsteps of Churchill, Ch.9, p.302]
The main difference I can see from 'over here' is that today the government is dominated by both the East Coast and now the West Coast and it is the vast but relatively empty hinterlands that are now feeling the squeeze of firm, not to say, dictatorial, government. And today, Washington is anything but "a small southern town"! I hesitate to criticise Max Hastings, a distinguished historian, reporter and commentator who I much admire but his piece has the feel of a two week trip 'over there', probably paid for by The Mail in order to facilitate an Op-Ed piece. Reading it, I gain the distinct impression that most of his time was spent at various dinner tables at the homes of some of the 'movers and shakers' in Washington. Somehow, I don't think he ever bothered to go down to, say, Arkansas and attend a country hoedown organised by a local TeaParty in order to gain some idea of the view from the bottom looking up! And he fails, it seems to me, to acknowledge that though some of the Republican pols might be less than sophisticated metropolitans, er, like Max Hastings, they are actually representing the views of their electors - and that is called democracy!
Not, mind you, that I think he is wrong to excoriate the GOP leadership (or lack of it) for tactics which are beyond stupid. However, he is entirely wrong in failing to draw our attention to the malevolent Marxist-imbued ideology that the Democrat party are determined to stuff down the throats of American people whether or not they gag on it. As the old saying has it, it takes two to tango!