Washington's polarization obstacle to reform

2021-01-18 12:06:42

US President Donald Trump. [Photo/Agencies] The second impeachment of US President Donald Trump is not only to hold him accountable for inciting the violence at the Capitol Hill on Jan 6, but also to rule out the possibility that he might seek to stage a comeback in the future. The series of political farces the United States has experienced over the past four years represent the eruption of the deep-seated problems in US society, as well as the intensifying of partisan conflicts and factionalism in US politics, mixed with personal grudges. As some have pointed out, the political polarization-the vast and widening gap between liberals and conservatives, as well as Republicans and Democrats-has increasingly become a defining feature of US politics today. The fissures in US society, the divide in politics and the solidifying of vested interests mean dialogues between different groups in a bid to resolve common problems are increasingly not on the same wavelength. The inevitable consequence has been the paralysis of the federal government, even in the face of such grave challenges as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. To some extent, the over 380,000 lives that the virus has claimed as of this weekend on US soil can be seen as victims of the ailing political system of the country, as most of them would have been preventable had prompt pandemic prevention and control measures been taken as they were in many other countries. To wield power, rather than to serve the people, seems to have become the raison d'etre for both parties, which has led to quick failure of many hard-won policies, such as the Obamacare, or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, once the power struggle intensifies. As a result, key policies that are of fundamental significance to the well-being of the nation, the COVID-19 bailout bill being a case in point, become an excuse for point scoring on party lines. Even if the long-awaited power transfer on Wednesday can be carried out in an orderly and peaceful way, the deep estrangement between the two parties will continue. It will remain irreconcilable until the fundamental problems in the US political system and society are properly addressed, among which the vast and growing income and welfare gaps, lack of upward mobility, and the racial divide are the most prominent. When those who are supposed to be the reformers resist reforms, a self-motivated vicious circle might be formed exhausting the vitality of a country in endless internal frictions.