Stupid and Ridiculous: the British view of the U.S. Shutdown
by William Jordan in Editor's picks, Front Page, International and Politics
Tue October 8, 2013 10:38 a.m. BST
British people commonly view the US government shutdown as ‘stupid’ and ‘ridiculous’, and many worry that it will affect the UK economy
As the US government shutdown enters its second week, neither side is showing much, if any, sign of backing down. Attention in many political and economic circles around the world has even turned to whether the funding crisis can be solved before another looming deadline: the October 17th date at which US officials say the country will no longer be able to pay its bills if Congress does not act.
However, British people are worried that even the shutdown – which has temporarily closed large parts of the federal government but does not directly affect its global financial commitments – could send economic ripples across the Atlantic.
Overall, 41% of the British public report that they have been following the US government shutdown, and a significant majority (69%) of those who are tuned-in think it is likely to impact the UK economy.
Most damning are the written responses these Britons give to the political dysfunction of one of the world’s oldest constitutional democracies.
When asked to describe the US government shutdown in one word responses were almost unanimously negative, most of them outright dismissive. 10% submitted the word ‘stupid’, the most popular choice. Next was ‘Ridiculous’, followed by formulations of 'pathetic', ‘shambles’ and ‘farce’.
The research appears to show that even while the United States has averted disaster with last-minute deals during previous showdowns – most recently over the ‘fiscal cliff’ in January 2013 – British observers remain concerned, even shocked, that the situation could get to where it is now. Meanwhile American financial markets appeared optimistic about events in Washington until yesterday, when they plunged as Congressional Republicans and Democrats publicly dug in their heels.