The American federal political system definitely needs fixing.
I am officially “tired to death” (a clear “ten” on the listener reaction scale) of hearing that the President must reach out to the other side of the aisle or this bill is not going to pass or it will pass the House but not the Senate, etc.
In my humble view, there needs to be a new political system in the U.S.
There needs to be only one Congressional house and the President needs to sit in it as the leader of the largest party. That is the only way to get things done. A modified British political structure.
I know, I know. I can hear it from here. That’s un-American. That’s not the way we do it here. That’s socialistic. (Well, everything some people don’t like is sooner or later called “socialistic,” isn’t it?)
But it’ll eliminate logjams and get things done.
At this moment, how much actually gets through the political system? How many bills pass? How speedily? How many pass in their original form? How many pass loaded down with pork?
The President doesn’t sit in Congress. He sits a few miles away and argues with Congress, or incessantly cajoles it, or compromises, or some other strategy. A huge amount of time, labor, and money goes into getting simple matters of business done because the President is not responsible to Congress.
Checks and balances? It’s a nice phrase. But checks and balances run perfectly well with the model of government I’m proposing, which is called “responsible” government. It’s “responsible” because the President is directly responsible to the House. If what he proposes is turned down by a majority of the House, the bill fails and, if the vote is one of “confidence,” the President is defeated and must face the consequences.
Those consequences may be forming a coalition government, allowing the other party to form a government, or going to the electorate.
In the American system, all is checks and little is balance. We’re reaching a point today where the minute hand is only one minute away from checkmate and totally unbalanced. A fair amount of that has to do with corruption, of course, and that will remain to be dealt with no matter what system is brought into play.
Nothing of consequence, I am prepared to say, gets through the American Congressional system and what does get through is loaded down with pet projects and sops to constituents, reflecting the compromises.
I’m not even urging that there be an upper house or Senate. Just one House of Congress, led by the President, who is the leader of the party with the most votes in Congress.
No more lunches with the opposite party to try to win them over to his view. No more incessant scrums by the leaders of the other parties trying to get their version of the story reproduced in the press or appealing over the President to the people. No more spectacles in which the President is of one party and the House and Senate are from other parties. That all goes away.
No more traffic jams in Congress with bills inching their way through and this representative from Backwater or Metropolis holding the initiative up to ransom until a bridge to nowhere is built in his or her constituency.
If the President cannot command a majority of the restructured House, he falls and a new leader takes over. The President, because he or she is always the leader of the largest party, has a clear field to bring his/her legislative program forward and see if it actually works, never mind finagling for years to bring it forward only to see a bastardized version finally emerge from Congress – if it ever does. And watching that contraption, which it is by the time everyone has worked it over, fail but not because the original idea wasn’t workable.
No need for Presidential vetoes and starting all over again because, under the new system, the President will be the leader of the largest party in Congress and would be the only one bringing legislation forward, except in the case of a minority House where other parties may align with the President’s party and participate in bringing legislation forward.
Gone will be perhaps two-thirds of the commentary on the nightly news. Will he, won’t he, what do Republicans think, what do Democracts think, what does the Tea Party think, will it happen this year, next year, ever, how will he win over this faction and that faction?
Gone will be the rise of so many new political groups, all of whom extend the process of trying to influence political players in the hopes that increased pressure will make an unworkable system suddenly work. (It never does and it gets worse each year.)
And the inducement to corruption, though no fix can eliminate it, will make it less necessary. If the President has a clear majority in the House, that becomes the only needed thing to get measures passed.
Can you picture the difference this would make? Bills passing the House. The President with a clear path to enacting his or her legislative vision, to actually bring legislation forward in good time to see if it actually works in practice or not. Instead of now endlessly debating visions of things because legislation never passes or, when it does, it’s become a mule instead of a horse.
So there you go. My suggestion. I’m awaiting a call from the President saying he heard about this idea and wants me to come to Washington to help him implement it. Long wait? Well, then a call from the Leader of the House or Senate sending me a multithousand-dollar cheque and asking me to write a report on this new idea. No? Well, then….