The course had a number of topics which I found interesting, therefore the whole course of Political Science seemed appealing to me. However, there were certain topics which sparked my interest more than other topics, and are discussed as below.
Voting and elections are an important part of political science studies since these studies are related with the electoral institutions. As a science, Political Science serves to develop, test and implement political theories to the consequences of election regulations and rules for general interests. Political Scientists work as consultants for national, international and regional organizations, to plan development and reforms of institutions in the best interests of democracy (Htun and Powell 1).
Voting and elections are vital pieces which shape the government of a country. It gives the general public the power to vote for candidates which seem the best. Therefore, the value of election and voting cannot be ignored, which is exactly why I found this topic interesting.
Political parties are those political organization which do not form the part of a government. Hauge and Harrop define political parties as a political group, in a country, which is identifiable officially by their labels that presents the group in electoral activities, and is able to elect a candidate to represent them for public office (185). These parties have important functions which include steering the government, if the party is ruling and political recruitment, to elect candidates for the executive as well as legislature (186).
Federalism provides a way of sharing power and sovereignty, between governments within a specified state of the country. It can be considered as a political device which provides a formal political agreement between several levels of government as well as among their spheres of authorities (Hauge and Harrop 228).
According to Hague and Harrop, the United States developed the world’s first and most influential federation. It allows the U.S. to share the legal sovereignty between the federal government and provinces (or states). The most important thing to consider is that neither of the two can abolish the other (229).
The American Federalism and Political Parties gave rise to a government shutdown, which was experienced in the early 2018. A shutdown happens when the constituent parts of a government close until the spending plans are sorted out by the government (US government shutdown: How did we get here?).
In the U.S. Government shutdown of 2018, many federal agencies closed down which caused hundreds of thousands of employees to take leaves. These leaves were, of course, without any pay as the country did not have any spending plan. Other major issues included the closing of essential services such as national security, air traffic control and electricity generation. Apart from these services, other non-essential services, such as visa and passport processing, were also delayed. Many departments whose proper function is necessary for the running of country also closed down, which include educational institutions, environmental protection agency, health and human services, NASA and national institute of health. This shutdown began on 21 January, 2018, and ended on the next evening.
According to Jim Mattis, the US Defense Secretary, more than 50% of his department was absent, and many critical tasks such as military’s maintenance and intelligence operations, came to a halt (US government shutdown: How did we get here?).
According to BBC News, this problem happened because the federal government failed to pass a spending bill. This bill is called an appropriations bill, and was to be passed by the Congress and countersigned by the US President Trump. The failure to do so caused a temporary shutdown of the government, due to which many other problems were raised.
The Democratic Party of the US wanted to have the bill passed so that the immigrants can be protected, which are eligible for the Childhood Arrivals act. Some Republicans were against the bill, and showed this opposition by voting against the bill. The problem was not solved and remained a hot issue until there was another shutdown on February 9th. The shutdown that occurred in February continued for a shorter period of five and half hours (Amadeo).
The Republican Party blamed Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, whose actions caused the bill to be blocked. On the other hand, the Democratic Party says that they had a deal on immigration (US government shutdown: How did we get here?).
More interestingly, this is not the first time that a government shutdown has happened in the U.S. as a shutdown in 2013 was experienced which lasted nearly 16 days. It happened when the Republican Party demanded to have President Obama’s affordable care act to be impeded through a spending bill (Amadeo).
As evident from report by BBC, government shutdowns are bad (US government shutdown: How did we get here). Amadeo also supports the BBC report by implying that they cause the financial systems to run into turmoil and the debts to rise up (Amadeo). More importantly, they cause the workers to sit at homes without any pay, when they do not want to do it. It is especially harmful for middle-class or lower-class government employees, who are not financially strong enough to sit back without income (Amadeo). Therefore, a solution is necessary to avoid any further government shutdowns.
One of the simplest solutions to the problem is that the cooperation between federal house and constituent states should be increased. Secondly, the political parties should show some level of tolerance instead of attempting to destroy each other’s reparation, as happened in both 2013 and 2018 (Amadeo). Specifically addressing the current problem of bill, the full senate needs to pass it (Kilgore). Another important thing that could help in avoiding further such problems, according to Kilmer, a representative in the US congress, is fixing the party leaders’ attitude. Once in power, they have an increasing temptation to replace the public debate with private negotiation. This causes the transparency of the legislative procedures to suffer; therefore, political parties should do what they are supposed to do (Kilmer).
Amadeo, Kimberly. Government Shutdown 2018 and 2013 Explained. The Balance, 19 Sept. 2018, www.thebalance.com/government-shutdown-3305683. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
Kilmer, Derek. How to Stop Government Shutdowns. Time, 24 Jan. 2018, time.com/5115300/congress-government-shutdown-prevention-reform/. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
Hague, Rog and Harrop, Martin. Comparative Government and Politics. 6th ed., New York, PALGRAVE MACMILLAN, 2004. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
Htun, Mala and Powell, Bingham G. Political Science, Electoral Rules, and Democratic Governance. Report of the Task Force on Electoral Rules and Democratic Governance, Sept. 2013, Washington, DC, www.apsanet.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=X6zjNH66alQ%3D&portalid=54. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
Kilgore, Ed. What Needs to Happen in Congress Today to Avoid Another Government Shutdown. New York Magazine, 8 Feb. 2018, nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/what-must-happen-today-to-avoid-another-government-shutdown.html. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
Pramuk, Jacob. Trump says he doesn’t want a shutdown before midterms as Congress scrambles to fund the government. CNBC News. 5 Sept. 2018, www.cnbc.com/2018/09/05/trump-does-not-want-government-shutdown-over-immigration-before-midterms.html. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
Schram, Sanford F. and Caterino, Brian, editors. Making Political Science Matter: Debating Knowledge, Research and Method. New York, New York University Press, 2006. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
US government shutdown: How did we get here? BBC News, 22 Jan. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39698546. Accessed 23 Sept. 2018.
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