The United States of America is exceptional, contrary to what a former KGB operative wrote in an op-ed piece in the September 12, 2013 edition of The New York Times.
Why is the U.S.A. exceptional? It is because of the bedrock principles of liberty, justice, democracy and the rule of law. Many yearn to reach our shores to begin a new life, and to share in the principles we as Americans so cherish. These core beliefs have stood the test of time; they are as firm today as they were over two hundred years ago.
It is because I personally believe in these principles that I am absolutely appalled at the inability of the U.S. Congress to do what it was sent to Washington, D.C. to do: Handle the business of the American people. Regrettably, they have failed miserably. They show complete and utter disregard for the citizens of this nation. There are many hard working federal workers who have been furloughed causing them real personal pain. However, it is important to point out, that the majority of the representatives on the Hill continue to receive their pay. One more reason they have failed their constituents. They believe they are somehow entitled to all of the "perks" of the job. Wrong! You are not entitled to anything. Everything you receive is bought and paid for by the American taxpayer.
The American people have lost all confidence in their elected officials to conduct the affairs of the nation in a responsible and professional manner. Do they exhibit any reason to instill confidence that they can manage the business of the country? Of course not! They are, it shames me to say, a dysfunctional institution lacking leadership and devoid of any true statesmen who can set aside their political differences for the betterment of the country.
The Deadline is Upon Us
October 17th is the deadline for the U.S. to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling or, as most analysts predict, catastrophic consequences will follow as the nation will default on its debt obligations. This is uncharted territory for the U.S.; for anyone to predict with any degree of certainty what will occur is simply disingenuous.
What can be said is that the outcome would not be good. One does not want speculate, but it does appear that it would roil the financial markets and there would be an exponential rise in borrowing rates. I can only say that to reach this point is the height of irresponsibility on the part of the leadership of this nation - both Democrats and Republicans alike.
The World is Watching and Waiting
Make no mistake: The credibility of U.S. global leadership is on the line. The message the U.S. federal government sends to the rest of the world is nothing short of weakness, especially to those extremists who continue to plot their next move against us. They view a time of crisis as a time when we are most vulnerable, when they can do the most harm to us.
As a result of the government shutdown, President Obama cancelled his recent scheduled trip to Indonesia to attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. As the world's largest economy and sole superpower, U.S. attendance at these meetings is very important. Our absence allowed China to step up its role on the world stage. China has little more than a passing interest in the outcome of this matter; they are the largest holder of U.S. debt and do not wish to see the U.S. default as they would like to continue to receive their payments.
In a recent column Xinhua writer Liu Chang wrote a piece titled, "U.S. fiscal failure warrants a de-Americanized world" http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2013-10/13/c_132794246.htm The columnist has used the U.S. federal government shutdown as an opportunity to lay out his thoughts for a world with less U.S. influence. Really? I hasten to think of a world without U.S. influence. He concluded by saying, "...the purpose of these changes is not to completely toss the United States aside...[glad he does not completely dismiss the U.S. role in the world] It is to encourage Washington to play a much more constructive role in addressing global affairs."
Where Do We Go From Here?
As the American people and the entire world sits and waits for the outcome in Washington, this much is certain: The elected officials in our nation's capital will come and go, political differences and policy disagreements will always be with us, but what I can submit to you is the institution of democracy and its core beliefs will remain strong. If you look at governments around the world, how many have remained intact as long as the U.S. without undergoing any dramatic changes? There are none. The U.S. is truly exceptional, despite what the Russian president may think.
Author's note: As of this writing, lawmakers were working on an eleventh hour deal to avert a debt crisis. As this is published, no deal had been reached.