What is Obstructionism?
Obstructionism is when notorious politicians manipulate the system, similar to a sabotage operation, to frustrate a political process. The aim of doing this is to prevent a change that won’t benefit them or just for pure political satisfaction. It takes full cooperation by the interested party in order to pull this off. Unlike in a dictatorship where if a bill isn’t in the good books of the leader, it is simply struck off with no debate at all. In countries where democracy is the way of life, subtlety has to be observed when it comes to obstructing a political process.
Obstructionism in the US
In the US, this is known as a filibuster. To block a debate or a vote, a congressman or a senator extends debate by saying anything he or she wants. It gets comical when some even read an entire book for hours as members yawn off. The whole thing is legal and it works for an interested party.
The Republican-Democrat political rivalry has seen the filibuster being used to prevent legislation or a vote from taking place. In their attempt to block the Health insurance legislation from taking off, the filibuster was used effectively by Republican senators to stall the process long enough for the battle to cross to the Supreme Court where the court ruled to uphold the legislation. The Republicans have also used it to frustrate the gun control proposals which came in response to the mass shootings of innocent civilians. The perpetrators had access to firearms without being vetted, a flaw that the bill would introduce if passed.
Obstructionism in Other Countries
In other countries, to stall a political process, there are similar attempts that border on the absurd. If you can’t talk to get your way, then perform the slow walk. Politicians are capable of the most obnoxious theatrics known to man.
In Japan, to prevent an actual vote in the process, politicians in the house walk at a slow speed. That speed is similar to that of a snail. Japanese legislators perform the cow walk just to stall the voting process.
In other democracies, they just withdraw from the house before the vote takes place, leaving the house with a lack of quorum. Stonewalling during a house committee investigation is another tactic. Those being investigated often give sparse details or diverting from the issue to give irrelevant information.
Criticism of Obstructionism
Obstructionism has been defended and condemned in equal measure. Those in support claim that it aims to prevent unpopular legislation from taking root. An example is that of the plan to redistribute the districts of Texas in 2003. Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives took a flight to Oklahoma to prevent a vote from taking place. The plan would have displaced five of their members from the house if it had passed.
Those against it argue that it is often manipulated by bad people who have vested interests. The case for strict gun controls comes into focus. Attempts to block it is interpreted as a cold gesture to the victims of gun violence in America.