During the 1970's, there was talk about America being ungovernable; that the rules made efficient government an impossibility. Filibusters, two houses of congress, the Supreme court (which has more power than probably any other SC in the world) - it all added up.
First of all, if you were to ask pretty much any European with insight in American politics, they'd tell you that yes, you are ungovernable: We simply cannot understand how you can allow filibusters, which means a minority of 40 % can hold the country in an iron grip. Nor how you can allow the Supreme Court judges to have lifetime appointments, and allow them to decide what is and isn't constitutional (in Sweden, the SC lacks any such power). Why do you need both a senate and a house of representatives? That just messes things up. And an electoral college - just let whoever gets the most votes win, right?
The American political process is slow and unpredictable; sometimes the house can agree but not the senate, sometimes the president will veto a bill (veto power doesn't exist in most of Europe), and even if everything else works out, the Supreme Court can step in and undo all that work.
There can be no doubt that America is hard to govern. But is it, in its nature, ungovernable?
My answer, after giving the subject some thought, is No.
It's very simple: America has been governed since its independence in 1783, and overall been a very successful nation. So ungovernable certainly isn't the right word to describe the US itself, however, we can't just ignore that it has grown increasingly tougher to govern lately. The Republicans in congress 2009-2011 acted many times in an obstructionist way, completely unable to accept that Americans had after all elected Obama and that they had to work with him. Obama in turn had a tough time accepting that America had sent 40 republican senators back to the Senate in the 2008 election, yet, the Republicans can't just point fingers and claim that "he started it". We're supposed to be above the liberals, not at the same level as them and definitely not below them.
However, this doesn't make America ungovernable. What's ungovernable, however, are the radical whiners on both sides of the centre who are pushing politicians to do things everyone rationally can say is stupid. Like not raising the debt ceiling. My friend Pablo went through the consequences of such a move in a recent post. The Tea Party, as it is today, is certainly not governable. They're impossible to please and refuse compromise. Kind of like Daily Kos liberals, or kind of like the Obama maniacs from 2008. Everyone knew that Obama would fail to please his supporters, simply because his supporters viewed him as some kind of messiah, and no politician can ever make a good messiah. Now, many conservatives are doing the same thing with Sarah Palin. If (God forbid) she is ever elected President, she'll disappoint all of them just like Obama did.
Liberals who are so blind with hate and so loose with facts that they believe GWB was involved in 9/11, that Sarah Palin didn't give birth to Trig and that the fiscal problems can be solved simply by the proletarians fighting back against the capitalists - they are ungovernable. And everytime they manage to influence politics (by putting pressure on Democrat politicans to move to the left), America becomes a more divided country, partisan hatred gains ground and emotional politics takes over.
The problem is that the almost the same thing could be said about large parts of the Tea Party movement. Those who still, even after the release of the long-form birth certificate, believe that Obama was born in Kenya and that he is a muslim. Those who believe cutting funding from Planned Parenthood and NPR will be enough to balance the budget (they seem to think so since those cuts are all they talk about). Liberals always want to raise taxes for everyone except themselves, and Tea partiers tend to only want to cut federal programs that they don't use themselves. That's why they won't focus on social security and medicare - a few of them talk about cutting medicaid since they're mostly middle class people who don't count on having to rely on it, and they ignore the fact that medicaid is the only one of these three programs that actually have some kind of payoff (more about that in another post).
I used to be a fan of the Tea party movement. Back at Rightosphere, I described the Tea Party as "necessary extremism". They were extreme, but that was necessary to fire up the base and without them, the likes of Rudy Giuliani would have ruled the GOP (as was predicted after Obama won in 2008). While I still agree with the general goals of the Tea party, I have come to realize that many of the Tea partiers don't care at all. They're not interested in actually helping their country at all. It's not just that they don't know better, they don't even want to learn. They're just interested in obstructionism and banging their heads against the wall. They're just as emotional and irrational as the Obamaniacs from '08.
I used to admire Americans for the way you were to active in politics: You had primaries and caucuses, your presidential campaigns had armies of volonteers willing to hand out fliers and knock on doors (doesn't happen where I come from - an election campaign in Sweden is a quiet, boring thing). That's what makes American politics so interesting: The americans. Talk about discouraging to find out that so many of these people who seem to work so strongly for a cause are really just a bunch of people with anger management problems who should get a better hobby. I still like American politics (otherwise I wouldn't be posting here), but I wish you would just try be more serious.
Please. Be serious. The more people who aren't serious in their approach to politics, the harder it this country will be to govern. And the weaker it will be.