The ups and downs of America’s ‘checks and balances’


The ups and downs of America’s ‘checks and balances’

The recent shutdown of the American government, along with the accumulation of many other internal and external political problems, should prompt US decision-makers to seriously consider the premise that politics is not only about a functioning ruling mechanism: Politicians’ attitudes and approaches play an equally essential role in shaping and influencing political challenges and viewpoints. The ruling mechanism in the US may be functioning smoothly, but there is a clear deficiency in American politicians’ attitudes and approaches. 
There is no doubt that the US has a good, functioning ruling mechanism, defined by its system of “checks and balances.” Nevertheless, its political system is not immune to being exposed to an infection that could destroy this mechanism completely. The current alleged source of infection lies in the deterioration of US political values. This “bug” may be spreading so effectively that the entire nation is unaware of its propagation, resulting in a decline in the crafting of sound decisions. 
Nations generally go through waves of ups and downs. Their success should not be measured only by their global political power or the strength of their economies; plenty of other factors influence their progress. The US is clearly riding a significant downward wave, widely attributed by its media and by Democratic Party members to the election of President Donald Trump. However, this decline could stem from a substantial deterioration of American social and moral values that has clearly affected its politicians generally, regardless of their affiliation. 
Citizens tend to compare their government mechanisms with those of other nations, with the aim of endorsing their own mechanism or justifying their political acts. The US clearly has a well-functioning ruling mechanism. Nevertheless, US politicians’ attitudes and approaches may constitute a weakness in the system; their overconfidence and belief that their decisions are always correct result in a substantial decline of values, even in the presence of the checks and balances system.

America’s current significant downward trend could stem from a substantial deterioration of social and moral values that has clearly affected its politicians, regardless of their affiliation.

Mohammed Nosseir

Democrats believe that American citizens made a mistake by voting Trump into office, period. Thus, their sole mission is to correct this error by impeaching the president. Republicans, on the other hand, consider impeachment a clear defeat and want to avoid it at all costs. Since this struggle is occurring while the checks and balances principle is fully functioning, American society may be undergoing a substantial decline in overall morality, whereby checks and balances is serving as an instrument for compromise: A means for “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”
Moreover, the US often defines its foreign policy based on three clear elements: Interest, leverage and value. While its superpower status may stimulate its global interest and work on strengthening its leverage, this could be happening at the cost of deteriorating values. The weaknesses of the US internal ruling mechanism may be affecting its foreign affairs policies and actions, even though most of these take place at a distance from its checks and balances mechanism. 
The US did not achieve its status of superpower and world’s largest economy solely by its efforts, but rather with the help of endorsements from many nations that have been willing to import its products and accept its role as political mediator. The US still needs to maintain its alliances with these nations, which is certainly not the case at present. US arrogance is leading it to believe that it can easily overcome its challenges without walking the extra mile to bond with other nations. 
The US is projected to continue to be the world’s major superpower for years to come; but even a superpower can easily be trapped by domestic and international conflicts that impact its status. The US may even become engaged in international conflicts in order to overcome its internal political disputes — a possibility that many distant nations fear. Thus, it is imperative for the US to understand the need to revisit its current challenges, which go far beyond the election of its president. 
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom.
Twitter: @MohammedNosseir
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view