- Campus copes with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
- Southern Miss tops Blazers, 62-27, in season ending game
- Henry Panion selected for 2014 Alabama African-American History Calendar
- Enjoy Christmas at the Alys Dec. 2, “The Season’s First Jingle”
- Engineering’s Ning wins ASTM International award
- Collat School of Business unveils sign at celebration
- Heudebert elected master by American College of Physicians
- Anti-aging strategies can improve more than looks
- On campus ‘blackout’ taken in stride
- Bariatric Surgery Services to present annual fashion show Nov. 25
VIEWPOINT: Rise above political squabble
How many times have the American government been shut down now? Counting the current one, eighteen. To someone who has lived in four different countries, this is a mind-boggling nonsensical situation – the government refusing to continue to provide for itself. It makes absolutely no sense from the most basic, survival point of view.
Of course, the root for this quagmire is the two-party system. Republicans and Democrats battle each other for control, playing a game of chicken that exacerbated by a brinksmanship like the fight between American and Russia in the Cold War. When the two parties fails to reach a compromise, chaos ensues.
What’s missing is a non-partisan element of government that keeps it government functional. Though a government shutdown seems like a uniquely American thing, it actually has also happened once elsewhere. In 1975, the Australian government was in the quagmire we are in right now. The two houses of the Australian Parliament were at an impasse over the budget, and refused to fund the government. The Prime Minister at the time was unwilling to compromise to resolve the situation.
Unlike the United States, Australia is a constitutional monarchy. The highest power ostensibly resided with the Governor General, Queen Elizabeth II’s official delegate. In practice, the Governor General always deferred to the Prime Minister in all matters. This time, though, Governor General, John Kerr, took matters into his own hands: he fired the Prime Minister and appointed an interim Prime Minister, who then immediately passed the budget. As Parliament was going to protest the decision, the Kerr simply fired everyone in Parliament. The next month, Australia held special elections to refill the spots.
The political implications of such a drastic act is obvious. As a result of his decision, Kerr was vilified and resigned early from his position. Firing the head of state and the entire legislature is not a pretty thing. However, in retrospect, it is clear that Kerr was instrumental in keeping the government functional, avoiding a major disaster.
I do not advocate for such a position of power within the US government. After all, the entire Revolutionary War was fought to keep America free from a monarchy. Nevertheless, the Governor General is able to step beyond the petty bickering of political parties to act in the interest of the country. Likewise, we need a system of preventing the government itself from becoming a bargaining chip for political parties. I can’t tell you exactly what this system could be, but it is painfully obviously that we need one to prevent the kind of paralysis that is currently gripping the nation.
Before his departure from the Presidency, George Washington had warned against the pitfalls of political parties. His advice is more relevant now than ever, and we must heed those words. We need something that could rise above the political squabble to protect the backbone of the country.
By: Tianjiao Zhang