Sunday, November 23, 2014

Strange Accountability in American Politics

Ross Douthat has been pulling one searing criticism after other on President Obama. Immigration Executive order is culmination of Barack Obama into an emperor threatening people's rule in this land; that is the gripe Douthat has. He says that Barack Obama is betraying himself by adopting an imperial route given that originally Obama did not want any kind of unbounded presidency.

This is all fine criticism and to an extent valid too. Most critics know that President Obama has not exceeded his legal authority, it is just that they did not want him to take any such egregious route, especially after Dems total loss in 2014.

But what these critics are failing to understand is American Politics is upside down in some sense. For 6 years, President Obama tried for compromises with GOP in every area; but he was clobbered in all those cases. Politics of Nihilism has been too attractive for Republicans to ignore while opposing Barack Obama all the time. After all 'attaining the power' has been in sight and trampling interests of common Americans was just a small price to pay in pursuing total parliamentarian opposition. 

The single most weakness of American Political System is, it allows a political party to play the role of 'total parliamentary style opposition'; but our voters simply do not hold such an opposing party any accountable. Tell me what policy platform of GOP helped it to win elections of 2014? Was it the myopic vision of 'starve the beast' and that 'government cannot do anything right'? All that GOP has to do was bask in the glory of punishments accorded to Obama by Americans in not improving Economic circumstances of average Americans. Ross Douthat is right when he says 

"Because Congress is unsexy, frustrating and hard to follow, mass democracy seems to demand a single iconic figure into whom desires and aspirations and hatreds can be poured."

So then who is at more fault - the president who has been punished mercilessly for non-cooperation of Opposition (a brilliant strategy politically in American context knowing that Public never holds truly responsible party accountable) or voters who fail in the basic duty of holding responsible parties accountable? Or the Media which goes on making money by essentially leaving Americans ignorant? Or the Supreme Court which for partisan reasons allowed complete makeover of American Elections by breaking 'dams' so the flood of Billionaire money flows in? Ross Douthat has gall to argue about imperial presidency when the real non-termed imperial judges of Supreme Court of USA are openly remaking this America more suitable to their ideology.

Grim truth is Barack Obama is simply following the play-book in large part made by Republicans in last few years. If GOP over reacts to Presidential Immigration order, they clearly befall to the trap set. If GOP continues with 'shutdowns', more tantrums and shenanigans while throwing 'responsible governance' to winds; voters will get next opportunity to hold GOP accountable in 2016. Whether President makes GOP's political life difficult or he achieves his mandate through legal edicts; he is not for sure going to be punished any more than he has so far. GOP's predicament is of their own making. They are the ones who are in a position to pass whether it is Immigration Law or Budget or policies to counter growing inequality. Lamenting about President - Ross Douthat falls into the same trap he so eloquently points out - that Americans want someone to blame and they find White House occupant as an easy candidate to 'carry their cross' of grievances. But the things Douthat ignores in GOP and in our imperial courts could be actually keys for a more responsible and accountable political system in America.

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