Charlotte, North Carolina – As the partial shutdown of a quarter of the US federal government enters its third week as of this writing, there is no telling when the political players will arrive at an amicable solution for their impasse.
The Democrat-dominated Congress led by newly installed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to fund the wall project of incumbent president Donald Trump.
Trump promised during the 2016 elections that he will solve the immigration problem in the borders between US and Mexico by building a wall.
This promise resonates among those who voted for him—the same voters who believed that, if left unchecked, the worsening immigration problem would be a slap and an insult to US sovereignty.
Work on the border wall had begun in earnest and Trump asked the US Congress for $5.7 billion to complete its construction. Trump wants to finish the wall on or before the 2020 elections when he will run for reelection.
Having said that, I am shifting the discussion from the US federal government shutdown to the party politics in my birth country, the Philippines.
A little history: The Philippine’s government structure is similar to the US, which has the executive, legislature and judiciary branches. These three branches have checks and balances to prevent abuse of power by either of them.
There had been cases of abuses and it is a given that whoever rules the Palace will gain dominance in Congress since lawmakers usually line up to join the administration party for pork barrel and other concessions.
Political butterflies or turncoatism in Philippine politics is usually justified in the name of the constituents who expect the lawmakers to give them projects. These lawmakers in turn bend over backwards in order to perpetuate themselves and their families in power.
That’s why in the Philippines it is so easy for the incumbent president to pass their pet legislation in Congress. Not in the US where there is no guarantee that a sitting president will gain control of Congress.
There is politicking in the US but it is a rare occurrence for legislators to jump parties and join the administration. Political turncoatism is not the norm since they vote according to their convictions, principles and their party’s stand.
They also vote bipartisan if they believe it will benefit the nation and it serves the interest of their constituents.
Elected officials affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties argue and debate on party politics and their loyalty to the party stance is unquestioned as in the case of the border wall.
US politics is based on ideologies, not personalities. Months ago, I read the Philippine Constitutional Commission’s proposed ban on political turncoats and to impose stricter rules for political parties.
Surely, these proposals would change the kind of politicians we have. Politicians too must support the ideals of the party they are affiliated with.
I am sure there is strong opposition to this proposal. Maybe they would debate that one should be free to leave a party that he or she believes doesn’t represent its ideals. But even that excuse doesn’t wash and justify turncoatism.
Both the US and the Philippines are said to be working democracies that uphold such freedoms as free speech and expression. I wish Philippine politicians and elected officials adhere and uphold these freedoms and debate on the merits of any proposal for public and not private interest.
Debates on principles, beliefs and so on are pleasing to my ears and I hope the impasse between Trump and Congress over the border wall will be resolved soon for the sake of the federal government employees who have families to support.
Building the border wall will take a while but I am sure it will be built one day given President Trump’s determination to resolve the immigration problem faced by the US.
Back in the Philippines, I hope Filipinos reject turncoatism as practiced by their politicians and elected officials. I hope we return to the glory days of the Liberal and Nacionalista parties as talked about by my departed parents before the corruption that led to the Marcos dictatorship.
(For questions and comments, please email me at email@example.com).