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Potatoes = Lobbyists = Immobilised Congress

In a piece "What Potatoes Say about the State of US Democracy" on Spiegel OnLine International, Marc Hujer clearly shows how a debate in relation to potatoes has shown the American Congress to have been effectively captured by lobbyists and immobilised.

"The current Congress, the 112th in US history, is the most unproductive since the end of World War II. It enacted only 80 laws in 2011, fewer than any Congress has done since 1947, despite the great need for reform and the ongoing budget crisis. The US Congress has failed to achieve a united position on the war in Libya, climate change, immigration, tax policy, reforming the country's social welfare systems and other important issues of the day. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed.

Politics has become powerless, or at least it seems that way in America. It no longer controls the country's fate, as it once did. Monetary, fiscal and even economic policy are fizzling out in a globalized world. Even Obama's $787 billion (€641 billion) economic stimulus package fell short of its desired effect.

Nowadays, Congress exemplifies the crisis in American democracy, the failure of checks and balances, an out-of-control culture of debate, reform gridlock, the increasing polarization of the parties and the loss of credibility of political institutions.

About 80 percent of Americans no longer have confidence in Congress. Its failure raises the question of whether the United States, the world's oldest democracy, has reached its limits -- and whether it can even be governed anymore when there is no longer any agreement or consensus."

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