US Government a Joke in Europe?
In his years in Washington reporting for The Scotsman, Alex Massie developed an appreciation for many things this country has to offer, such as college football. But, as he explains in a piece for Foreign Policy, our Congress was decidedly not amongst them.
His piece is subtitled “Viewed from across the pond, the U.S. Congress seems at best incompetent and at worst a joke.” He points to the dashed expectation that President Obama would change America’s foreign policy and, in particular, his promise to close Gitmo and embrace a global climate change treaty. Not only has Congress stymied those policies, they haven’t even confirmed several ambassadorial appointments a year into his tenure.
While it’s hard to defend some of this — and I don’t — my New Atlanticist essay “Congress Viewed from Across the Pond” does point out that Congress isn’t entirely to blame for these problems. Moreover,
Even if our legislators suddenly became more mature and less petty (and I agree with Dave Schuler that they won’t) our system of governance was designed with the primary intention of making it difficult to get anything done. Our Framers feared tyranny much more than inefficiency and designed our institutions accordingly.
For many, the idea that a party can win an election and yet not be able to govern as they wish is shocking. Because the United States is unusual — if not unique — in that regard, it’s unfathomable to those overseas. Indeed, having taught the subject to college freshmen, I can attest that most Americans don’t understand it, either. But, if you happen to be on the losing side of things, it’s very much a feature rather than a bug.
Much more at the link.
Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Images.