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2013 was a year riddled with turmoil for the United States government. Democrats and Republicans disagreed more fervently than ever about issues such as reproductive health rights and the national budget, and even partially shut down the federal government for more than two weeks in early October, in an infamous display of political obduracy. Political divides were deepened as issues like same-sex rights and privacy rose to the forefront, and media coverage of NSA surveillance scandals and IRS targeting only heightened the unrest.

One former CIA director in particular says that the issues plaguing the United States government both at home and abroad genuinely keep him up at night. David Petraeus, chairman of the KKR Global Institute and former military general explains, “One of the biggest threats facing out country is Washington dysfunction. I’m just worried we won’t take the right steps in our own country to enable us to capitalize on these truly historic opportunities that we have.” He’s referring to the multitude of problems that the U.S. government was faced with in 2013, pointing in particular to lack of education and immigration reform as the main culprits. Petraeus also details the repercussions and fallout as a result of the whistleblowing scandal involving Edward Snowden, which he calls, “the biggest blow to U.S. intelligence in history.”

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

It was almost as though all of the disagreements and scandals endured by various political leaders culminated in the federal government shutdown. According to The Washington Post, “October’s 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government cost taxpayers about $2 billion in lost productivity from 850,000 furloughed employees,” just two of the major problems that stemmed from the devastating and embarrassing political deadlock.

As President Obama spoke to the United States people during the State of the Union address late last month, he exuded a positive, confident message to those skeptical of our nation’s current leadership. While some might argue that our government is its own worst enemy in terms of making political progress and resolving the issues at hand, others are hopeful that 2014 will be a better year.

Featured Image: Jack Says Relax via Flickr CC

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Sarah is a freelance writer with a wide variety of interests, including international relations, politics, education, humanitarianism, women's rights, yoga, mental and physical health, and natural remedies.