US democracy seriously flawed as gridlocks and partisan battles destroy legislation

By Global Times Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/5/19 23:43:01

The US democracy is facing gridlocks and crises as fierce partisan conflicts have reached an unprecedented level, adversely affecting the government's performance and eroding people's trust in the government.

In modern-day Washington, delays, impasses and obstruction have become commonplace.

This founding fathers designed the US Constitution with checks and balances to prevent the emergence of too strong an executive authority. But these checks and balances can also be used as partisan weapons. The US democracy has now produced dysfunctional governance, thanks to unprecedented levels of partisan acrimony.

The clearest indicator of partisan battle has been Congress's inability to even pass legislation.

The 113th Congress is widely regarded as "the least productive" since 1947.

Sitting from January 2013 to January 2015, it passed 234 bills, which sounds like a decent number until you compare it with the infamous "Do Nothing Congress" which Harry S. Truman railed against in the late 1940s, which passed more than 900, according to a BBC report earlier this year.

It shut down the government for 16 days in 2013, resulting in a record-low average approval rating of just 14 percent.

In February, the staunchly conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at the age of 79, immediately prompting a political struggle over whether President Barack Obama should choose a successor who could tilt the Supreme Court toward liberals.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," the Kentucky Republican said. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

The political fight after Scalia's death has brought into collision the three branches of the US government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial. It also exposed the extreme partisanship that has become the hallmark of Washington politics.

American political scientist Francis Fukuyama believes that the US political process has become "dysfunctional," as the country's judiciary and the legislature continue to play outsized roles in governance at the expense of executive branch bureaucracies, and the accretion of interest groups and lobbying influences has distorted democratic processes and eroded the ability of the government to operate effectively.

Fukuyama also pointed out that given the polarization in the federal governance structure, the American system of checks and balances has become a "vetocracy."

"The decision system has become too porous - too democratic - for its own good, giving too many actors the means to stifle adjustments in public policy," Fukuyama said.

The article is a commentary from the Xinhua News Agency.

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