Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr

De overschatte neergang van Amerika

CAMBRIDGE – Met de komende verkiezingen voor het Amerikaanse Congres in het achterhoofd tieren vragen over de gezondheid van de Amerikaanse politieke instituties en de toekomst van zijn mondiale leiderschap welig, waarbij sommigen de politieke patstelling aanhalen als bewijs van de neergang van de VS. Maar is de situatie echt zo slecht?

Volgens politiek wetenschapper Sarah Binder is de ideologische kloof tussen de twee belangrijkste Amerikaanse politieke partijen niet zo groot geweest sinds het einde van de negentiende eeuw. Ondanks de huidige patstelling echter heeft het 111e congres het klaargespeeld om er een grote fiscale stimulus, hervorming van de gezondheidszorg, financiële regulering, een wapenwet en een herziening van het legerbeleid over homoseksualiteit door heen te krijgen. Het politieke systeem van de VS mag dus duidelijk nog niet afgeschreven worden (en zeker als politieke patstellingen cyclisch zijn).

Desondanks wordt het huidige Congres geplaagd door een lage wetgevende capaciteit. Alhoewel de ideologische polarisatie meer dan verdubbeld is de laatste twintig jaar, van 10% tot 21% van het publiek, hebben de meeste Amerikanen geen uniform conservatieve of liberale opvattingen en willen ze dat hun vertegenwoordigers compromissen sluiten. De politieke partijen zijn sinds de jaren zeventig echter ideologisch rechtlijniger geworden.

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