In the riveting soap opera of U.S. politics, an ongoing plotline is almost too dramatic to ignore.
It features Washington elites who deftly choreograph real-life government shutdowns through manipulation of budget talks for political advantage.
Though the potential fifth government shutdown in the past decade was averted late Saturday just hours before the funding deadline, this seemingly unending and tumultuous shutdown saga remains far from over.
The nation is now poised on the precipice of another cliffhanger, as this familiar plotline is set to replay itself once again in mid-November, when another deadline ominously approaches.
As the world is watching, a familiar pattern is playing out in Washington, with elected officials acting more interested in political brinkmanship and rhetorical gymnastics than in governing responsibly and efficiently.
Perhaps those U.S. politicians are convinced that the government runs on the sheer force of rhetoric and not on money. Passing a budget, the cornerstone of responsible governance and the basic responsibility of the Congress, is a Herculean task for those who cannot resist the allure of partisan grandstanding.
At the heart of this issue is the inability of lawmakers from across the aisle to come to a consensus on essential matters such as the federal budget. One of the primary culprits behind this recurring problem is the hyper-partisanship that has taken root in Washington.
This stark partisan division makes it increasingly challenging to pass comprehensive legislation, including budgets, without resorting to stopgap measures and short-term fixes.
According to a Pew Research Center study, just four times in over five decades has Congress enacted all its required appropriations measures on time.
No wonder the approval rate of the Congress is dismally low. Americans and the world have long been witnessing the show of miserable dysfunction, with budgetary disputes and partisan squabbles taking center stage while essential legislation languishes in limbo.
It is almost as if those politicians enjoy pushing the boundaries of political theater while leaving the American people to bear the brunt of their inability to get the job done. After all, it is not those elites in Capitol Hill whose salaries will be affected by a government shutdown.
In the hallowed halls of Washington, Democrats and Republicans are doing nothing other than trading barbs and pointing fingers at each other. It is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, except both the pot and the kettle seem to suffer from severe memory lapses regarding their core and basic responsibilities.