Taking a break from government
Finally there is an escape route from the nightmare in the United States. How did we not think of it before? It has been in front of us for 10 months.
The nightmare, of course, is that country’s presidential election. It features a 70-year-old tantrumic child and a 68-year-old robotic opportunist who he accuses of being unfaithful to her husband, who has been unfaithful to her.
So Americans have a choice between a vulgarian with the attention span of a grasshopper and an automaton devoid of emotion and human touch.
Voters don’t want either as president (can you blame them?), but they don’t have any other choice. At least, they thought they didn’t.
All they have to do is look to Spain. It has been without a functional national government for almost a year now, and is getting along quite nicely.
A few days before Christmas last year Spaniards voted, but failed to give any party a majority. Negotiations to form a coalition government failed. Another election was held in June but no party won a majority, and more negotiations for a coalition also failed.
So Spain’s 47 million citizens were left without a working national government. There is a “caretaker” government, but it has little power to do anything. It can’t fill diplomatic posts. It can’t appoint cabinet ministers, nor can it approve next year’s budget, which is supposed to be in place by now.
No laws have been passed by the Spanish Parliament since late last year. Critical decisions are left unmade. Most parliamentarians are out trawling for votes for the next election, or involved in continuing negotiations to create a coalition government.
Local governments are still at work. Public transportation is running, garbage is being picked up and those on welfare are receiving their cheques.
Few Spaniards appear to be upset by not having a functioning federal government. One poll showed that only 2.3 per cent of the population considered this a serious problem.
News reports from Spain show more satisfaction than concern.
“We’ve done very well without a government . . . perhaps the best half year of Spanish politics in at least the last decade,” Gabriel Calzada, an economist, wrote in a daily business publication.
“No government, no thieves,” Félix Pastor, a language teacher, told the New York Times. Pastor said the people of Spain were better without a government because the politicians were unable to cause any more harm.
The Times also interviewed Rafael Navarro, a 71-year-old pharmacy owner in Madrid, who said too little government is better than too much.
“Spain would be just fine if we got rid of most of the politicians and three-fourths of government employees,” he said.
Polls show that a majority of Spaniards believe that most of their public services work only “a little” or “not at all.”
Polling data also shows they are fed up with fraud and corruption and with politics, politicians and political parties. A whopping 86.6 per cent believe the tax system is unfair and 94.6 per cent believe it is riddled with fraud.
That should sound familiar in America where potential president Trump has not paid federal income taxes for a couple of decades.
Americans should follow the Spanish lead. Don’t elect anyone. Better still just call off the election. Let the lame-duck Obama administration carry on for a bit longer while Trump, Clinton and the other politicians behind them get psychiatric help.
Being without a functioning government would not be a calamity for Americans. Their Congress already is so divided that it can’t get anything done. It shut down government temporarily because of disagreement over health care law, and has argued and stalled anything that might improve the lives of Americans.
American politicians, and politicians in many other democracies, are divided and becoming more polarized every year. There is no compromise – or little effort to even discuss compromise – on the big issues such as economic policy, immigration, racism, security.
It’s time they all take a break and sit down to discuss how the system is broken, and what can be done to get it functioning properly.
It seems to be working for Spain.