Saturday, July 25, 2009

Comment on The Belmont Club,
"Loaves and fishes"


In a parliamentary system the Leader of the Opposition forms a Shadow Cabinet. The Opposition may be loyal to the Sovereign but it does not pretend to be loyal to the government. They are by definition a government in internal exile waiting to take power at a moments notice. In the American system the roles of Head of State and Head of Government are conflated. This leads to endless confusion and even such piffle as hacks complaining when Rush Limbaugh says that he wants Obama to fail. Also the American system encourages infantilism by the party out of power. They are essentially encouraged to take a two to four year vacation during which they may criticize but have no obligation to propose an alternative. This does not serve either the parties nor the Republic well since if the out party does take office it is usually due to the failures of the incumbents and not due to any articulated proposals of their own. That means that instead of being ready to hit the ground running and govern from day one the new administration will spend at least six months finding where the bathrooms are and how to get anything done. The Republicans are particularly hard hit by this phenomenon since they are not leavened by as many experienced bureaucrats and do not have as large a network of NGOs, think tanks and academics to draw on.

If my previously described desire to reform the Electoral College were adopted it should hopefully encourage potential candidates to articulate their positions in a more meaningful and assertive way on an ongoing basis. Right now the Republican leadership should be attacking everything about Obama right down to the way he cuts his hair. They should be assertive, confrontational and on top of every issue and they should be disciplined. The thought of local Senators acquiescing to Satomayor in order to cut a deal with local immigrant advocate groups should be anathema.

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Armeggedon Rex,
(who noted the sorry record of politicians in parliamentary systems)
You are correct in all your caveats. My suspicion is that the universal quality of politicians was well understood by the Founders and they crafted the federalist system as the best device to peel off the grossly incompetent or parochial before they could demean the national stage. That proved an imperfect reed even before the Civil War and since the passage of the 17th Amendment it has been in effective abeyance. We need to find a way back to Madison and company's original intent.

herb,
(who noted Bush 43 was ill rewarded for seeking to be a "Uniter")
My instinct was that Bush erred in bringing Ted Kennedy onboard for the Education reform bill. He gained nothing for it but abuse.

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