Politicians behaving badly

I am writing futuristic science fiction, and in my First Contact trilogy, and in particular the second Dreams Defiled I focused on people in government, and of course to make a story, some had to behave badly. At the personal level, they behaved extremely badly, but in terms of their job, I rather fancy I sold myself short. I would never have predicted that they could behave quite as badly as some American Congressmen seem to be threatening, at least. My characters’ bad behaviour tended to be either through incompetence or for personal gain in terms of power and influence, i.e. knives out to get to the top. While this is not exactly something to approve, it is at least more understandable (to me, anyway) than the current problems.

A democracy can really only work if a new intake of politicians honour the commitments made by their predecessors. They make new laws or regulations, or put forward new policy to change what is happening, but they cannot simply refuse to honour the debts of their predecessors. The reason, of course, is that it is not their predecessors’ reputation that is at stake; it is the validity of the government itself. 

I have no comment on Obamacare; the value of that is something for Americans to decide for themselves, but it was passed into being by a previous Congress and in the next election President Obama stood on that platform, amongst others, and was elected with a sound majority in the electoral college. The current Republicans have got to accept that for the moment at least, Obama has been given a mandate by the American people, and they should live with it. Instead, from a foreign perspective, they are behaving a little like spoiled brats. They have some leverage, or so they think, and they have made President Obama an offer they think he cannot refuse. The problem for them is, they have made him an offer he cannot accept, because if he does he effectively has given up on being President, and they have the opportunity to deliver repeat performances at will. The problem then is, the Republicans have also boxed themselves into a corner from which it is difficult to see an escape route. The simplest way is for the vote to go to the floor of the House, and hope that enough Republicans cross the floor to get them out of this mess.

What happens if they do not? I do not know, but when the United States Government stops paying its bills in mid October I think there will be economic chaos. It is not so much what is really happening, but what the panic-stricken think might be happening. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the United States is the greatest economic powerhouse on the planet, and it has always had the reputation that it honours its debts. Once it starts not to, nobody will know what to trust. Too much of the world’s money that is needed to drive commerce is tied up in greenbacks, mainly because the objective is to tie it up in something that cannot fail. Trouble is, it might, not because the United States economy is going to fall to bits, but rather because some Congressmen have their noses out of joint. These Republicans could do far more damage to the world economy in a month than Al Qaeda could ever do, and in my view, they qualify as fiscal terrorists. Maybe they should be rehoused in Guantanomo!

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