While many Americans wonder how the government shutdown will affect them, we forget that as the last remaining world superpower nothing we do escapes world notice. As the shutdown commences, the global community’s reaction ranges from confusion to concern. While it might make for gripping cable news programming, the picture it presents to the rest of the world is decidedly less grand.
The criticism is harsh in an editorial for The News, a Mexican paper, expressing shock that Congress is “facing the unthinkable prospect of shutting down the government as they squabble over the inconsequential accomplishment of a 10-week funding extension. It isn’t serious, but it certainly isn’t funny.”
Canada’s Globe and Mail suggests that “Canadians can only pray their economy won’t be collateral damage,” whereas Britain’s The Independent likens it Americans sneezing “and Brits catch[ing] the flu.” In The Independent’s article, the Republicans are also referred to as “the party of ‘no.’”
While there are very serious crises that Americans face on a day-to-day basis, there is nothing quite like what’s happening here anywhere else in the world. No other country would allow anything to shut down their government, let alone a single unpopular bill. When last the Congress played this game with raising the debt-ceiling, the United States lost its Triple-A credit rating from Standards & Poor, with the other two nationally recognized statistical rating organizations changing their credit outlook on the country to “Negative.”
Globally the attitude seems to match that of most rational Americans, including a group of Republicans who tried to avoid the shutdown, that no single issue is worth allowing the government to shut down and harm America’s increasingly shaky global reputation. There are legitimate deficit concerns and matters requiring attention, so more than ever we need Congress to choose governance over political posturing.