“The Elephants Are Robbing The U.S. Government”, read the headline of today’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta, a state-run daily newspaper circulated in 41 Russian cities. The headline, a jab at House Republicans, shows the level of interest that the current budget countdown is attracting in Russia and around the world.
Many Russians are worried about the economic shockwaves of a government shutdown as the financial effects of a failure to agree on a budget deal ripple out across the world. If this particular headline seems to reflect the perception that it is Republicans that are impeding the proper functioning of Congress, the wider view in Russia is that of an American political system that is broken, a view that many here at home seem to share.
That Russia, a country that only emerged from ruinous Soviet rule slightly more than two decades ago, feels that our political system is broken goes a long way in showing how far in the wrong direction the United States has slid. While there is much international frustration with the lack of positive action taking place in Washington, one should also not forget that the current developments also show some of the most admirable aspects of the American spirit.
When Senator Ted Cruz took the stand alongside other Republican congressmen, he symbolically displayed the strength of our age-old adage: ‘Don’t Tread On Me’. No matter how much the Senate’s Democratic majority, and our President, with his penchant for authoritarian-style governance, push to implement sweeping reforms, they cannot stop average people who refuse to let their lives trampled by the federal government.
While this may look like pure political curcus to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Americans may not be happy about how Washington functions, let us not forget what the current situation shows about our refusal to ever be silent, to ever stand aside when we feel our rights are being infringed.
Today, many Russians planning trips to the United States are worried that a government shutdown would keep them from visiting American landmarks, as the budget freeze would force many government-run sites to close. If a budget freeze does occur, the Statue of Liberty might close but true liberty will very much be alive.