Calling America – Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? – NYTimes.comBy
Mr. Friedman is one of the more astute observers of the position of the United States in the world, and he writes from Singapore to express his dismay at the unprecedented views he is hearing from even our friends abroad. “People always looked up to America as the best-run country, the most reasonable, the most sensible. And now people are asking: ‘Can America manage itself and what are the implications for us’ ” — if it can’t?
I am currently at the Universal Postal Union in Switzerland meeting postal and government officials from around the world. This is a technical group, not overly political. But they are well-educated, well-informed, and influential. When prompted, they are making the same observations that the people Friedman quotes, people whose profession is international relations and politics. The bafflement and disappointment in the dysfunctionality displayed in Washington is shared by this population, also.
In the rest of the world, the government shuts down when there is a coup. People from Africa ask me if that’s what happened. “Did you actually have a coup? Is that what happened? Why else would the government close?” Somehow the answer that our political process has been kidnapped by a vitriolic and undemocratic minority sounded trite. I guess the correct answer is “Yes”, there was a coup by the extreme right wing of the Republican party.”
Fortunately, the US delegation is still active and effective here at the UPU, representing the interests of US business and mailers and the USPS…and the UPU. They are chairing committees, showing up and contributing to work groups, speaking up in big plenary sessions with concerns and corrections, working the halls and luncheons and receptions and horse-trading and clarifying and promoting. This part of the USG is working very well, indeed. They are doing the job they signed up for, which is what we elect Congressmen and Senators for: represent our views, negotiate, haggle, horse trade, improve our living standards and education system and health system and infrastructure and environment and….. and do it every damn day.