Fracturing political parties, loss of faith in the efficacy of government, gridlock. The Weimar Republic failed for many reasons unique to its place in the history of Germany, but many of its problems reflect on the current situation in the United States. The breaking point for the Weimar government came several years before the appointment of Hitler to the office of Chancellor when Chancellors, in order to break the gridlock in the Reichstag began ruling by fiat. The country came under the rule of dictators before Hitler. Gridlock is the destroyer of democracy, it is the fatal flaw in democratic government. Western Europe in the 1920’s and 30’s provides at least 3 clear examples of the danger to democratic governments caused by gridlock. Spain in the 1930’s, France in the 20’s and 30’s and, of course, Germany.
The United States has been in a prolonged political crisis since at least the Presidential election of 2000. The problems have accelerated since 2006. The fundamental problems of a changing economy, which has seen the destruction of high-paying, stable jobs that did not require substantial education, has driven much political dissatisfaction in this country. The extensive gerrymandering leading to a more politically extreme House of Representatives has not helped, nor the proliferation of lobbying to aid increasingly expensive and prolonged political campaigns. Additionally, the democratization of news media fostered by the Internet which has allowed people to listen to politically affirming news and commentary to the exclusion of generally agreed upon facts and opinions has widened the gulf between people of differing political persuasions.
The true problem in the country is the gulf between what many conservatives and liberals believe. It seems that now, more than any time in recent memory, that one side completely rejects the view of the other. The problem with this is that in addition to politically polarizing legislation facing intractable resistance, more mundane affairs and non-partisan issues become casualties of gridlock. A host of problems that are facing the United States right now and in the near future are being swept under the rug. There has been no comprehensive strategy to deal with cybersecurity for American corporations which face enormous long term problems from the theft of their intellectual property, which makes them vulnerable to foreign competition and represents a theft of billions of dollars of research and development. There is no comprehensive strategy for updating American infrastructure and coming to terms with our many legacy institutions. Medicare and social security are economically unsound and will eventually fail or suck up too much of the national budget and, finally, there is no plan to deal with $19 trillion in debt. The absurdities of the rise of Donald Trump are the least of the problems facing the nation, and in the long view, it is not the Donald Trumps, but the mundanities of proper governance that are a threat to the Republic.