MDR Info Interviews ASL About Political Crisis in Washington DC

MDR Info, the main news radio station for the Mitteldeutschland region, conducted a live interview with American Studies Leipzig on Saturday, October 12, about the ongoing political crisis in Washington DC involving the federal government being closed and the country rapidly heading to defaulting on paying its debts.

Journalist Simone Friederich asked Crister S. Garrett what is motivating Republicans, especially Tea Party members, to take such a hard line. The motivation can be found in three factors, Garrett noted. There is a (mostly white) middle class that confronts increasingly economic insecurity because of globalization, technology disruption, and other developments. A notable sector of American society is also convinced that the federal government is becoming clearly too large and intrusive, and the Affordable Care Act or “Obama Care” has become a primary symbol of that. And finally, American electoral districts in the House of Representatives have been increasingly gerrymandered or restructured to favor “purer” or more homogenous voting blocs, meaning compromise is less necessary.

Friederich followed up by asking if there was any compromise in sight. Garrett said there seems to be signs of forward movement, especially since the latest opinion polls showing some three-fourths of Americans placing the blame squarely on the Republicans for the government shutdown. Senior Republicans themselves have said the ongoing crisis has been a political disaster for them. The President's insistence on “not being blackmailed” also seems to be a message with which American voters agree. Thus the center in American politics has reasserted itself; still the question is, has it done so in time to avoid default on Thursday, October 17.