Friday, July 29, 2011

Let's get rid of our government, start over with a parliament

That's the case I (probably needlessly provacatively) make in this week's Scripps Howard column.
The debt limit debate is only the latest, greatest manifestation of America's broken politics. For more than two years, President Obama has faced unprecedented Republican obstacles to getting executive branch appointees and federal district judges confirmed. The day-to-day business of government is increasingly going undone because the GOP is happy to obstruct for obstruction's sake.

Why is this the case? Partly because the two major political parties are more ideologically coherent than ever ― there are no more conservative Democrats like Scoop Jackson or liberal Republicans like Lincoln Chaffee in Congress. Politicians are less willing and less able to compromise, for fear the other side will get credit.

The problem is compounded by the divided control of Congress, where Republicans have the House and Democrats hold the Senate. Add the Senate filibuster into the mix and there are simply too many procedural roadblocks to getting even the simplest things done.

Maybe it's time to scrap the system, and start over again with a parliamentary democracy.

As commentator David Frum noted on Twitter recently, ``We're getting a good real-life poli-sci lesson as to why so few other democracies have adopted U.S. separation of powers idea."

He's right: In parliamentary democracies, one party ― or a coalition of parties ― captures control of parliament and appoints a prime minister.

It controls all the levers of government, and is thus responsible for everything that happens (and doesn't happen) on its watch.

It's no coincidence that a country like Britain was able to slash its budget a year ago, while American politicians are still dithering.

Here, politicians spend inordinate amounts of energy figuring out how to deny credit and pin blame on the other side; in the U.K., voters know exactly who is responsible.

Yes, the Founders wanted separation of powers ― but what we've ended up with is an abdication of responsibility. Maybe it's time to toss aside our broken machinery of government and start over.
Ben advocates a return to pre-FDR strict constructionism.


Nick said...

Your idea has merit, even if it’s a bit optimistic given the current “American” spirit.

A similar, more punitive system is what is needed. What I’ve got now is but an outline, but I believe it could be the basis for a new, functioning government…

Jerry Burns said...

How does this happen? Sounds great