Has the current state of American politics banished or abandoned common sense? Or, worse, have Americans banished or abandoned common sense in what is expected from their government and even from basic citizenship? This should be intolerable. It is not. Last week was filled with examples of the absence of common sense. The first was the looming debt ceiling crisis and whether the US, for the first time in its history, could default on its payments defined by the Fourteenth Amendment as The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. The US and Denmark are the only states with debt ceilings set in absolute numbers. The purpose of the debt ceiling is a failed effort in controlling government spending. Since 1960, the US has raised its debt ceiling 78 times-49 under Republicans and 29 under Democrats. The current US debt is closing in on $32 trillion-$8 trillion or 1/4 of that debt accruing under the Trump administration’s four years and $4 trillion so far under Biden. That the debt ceiling would be breached in mid-2023 was no secret in 2022. That the debt ceiling would be breached in mid-2023 was no secret in 2022. Why then is raising it down to the wire again? It is the absence of common sense. The US has a ticking time bomb in its exploding debt. Yet the inbuilt increases inherent in Federal spending programs make reductions very difficult. Entitlements account for about half of Federal spending; interest payments are approaching $400 billion this year or just under half of the defence budget. The Committee for a Responsible Budget estimates that, without change, in 2032 interest payments will be about $1.2 trillion. What is to be done? The common sense answer is, as the administration compiles its budget requests, Congress should be part of the process with representatives from Houses and both parties present. But can politics tolerate common sense? Second, last week another “mass” shooting took place in a Texas shopping mall. A mass shooting is currently defined as involving four or more victims. The easy, cynical solution is to raise that number well above four. Because of the lack of agreement on the meaning of the Second Amendment a better solution is not to focus on guns and whether “a well regulated militia” and not individuals have the right to bear and carry arms. Instead, common sense would dictate focusing on ammunition. For example, the AR-15 .223 bullet has a muzzle velocity of 3000-3200 feet per second or almost three times the speed of sound. It is the speed of the bullet that makes any wound potentially fatal and extraordinarily damaging. Bullets could be made with limits on muzzle velocities to render them less deadly. And, more importantly, why should every bullet not have a chip to mark its identity that would hold sellers and manufacturers liable if the ammunition was obtained illegally? Third, a poll was released last week. Of nearly three-fifths of Americans who believed Donald Trump broke the law, one in five would still vote for him. How can that be? Of course, polls are so selective that the risk of being wrong or inaccurate is always present. A convicted candidate running for president is not new. In 1920, Socialist candidate and labour leader Eugene V. Debs was in an Atlanta prison for violating the 1918 Sedition Act that outlawed public criticism of the government in wartime. Ironically, Trump could face charges of sedition! Will common sense return to American politics? One of the most serious obstructions to the return of common sense is the concurrent absence of civility and compromise across America and especially in the US government and both aisles of Congress. When the other side is viewed as the enemy and evil, and politics has become zero-sum in which you are either with us or against us, then these absurdities become reality. Americans must ask why common sense has disappeared– discarded or abandoned. And candidates for high office should likewise be compelled to address this question. That does not mean common sense is a universal elixir and cure. It is not. But without a modicum of common sense being applied to politics, the swelling national debt is the avatar for the future. That debt must be addressed. Otherwise, it will explode. And that example is the precursor showing how failing to apply common sense to get America back on course spells disaster! He writer is a senior advisor at Washington, DC’s Atlantic Council and a published author.