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Why I Think the U.S. Needs a [Parliamentary System With Proportional Representation]

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Posts

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    Everyone has 'checks and balances'. Everyone. Some work better than others, some work some times and not others.

    The US is not the only nation to have 'checks and balances'.

    Here's a test to anyone who defends the current system: Do you believe the government system of the US can be improved? At all? In any way?

    Because I can imagine improvements to the government of the countries I've lived in, and so can just about everyone else in the entire world. Is the US system simply the best system of governance that can be imagined? Or is it just what you ended up with and won't change because you've enshrined it?

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    Well, there would be some kind of sunset provisions for the current Congress to expire and the parliamentary system would be enacted after new elections in like, 2020.

    Well that's a separate issue about implementation. What I'm saying is would you want the Tea Party to have sole control over the US government without the Senate and the Obama Administration stopping their shit? This is why I find checks and balances important.

    I tend to think they would never gain or quickly lose their power for a generation if they could actually get their shit passed. But I am an optimist.

    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    The thing which stops fringe government in an FPTP fusion-of-powers system is the median voter theorem, not any constitutionally ascribed mechanism.

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

    You might not have a choice. One of your major parties has already recognized that it can keep staking the system itself for a brief electoral advantage.

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  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    It would also be way easier to fix their shit. One of the issues we have is that the rolling back policy is way easier than implementing it in our system. So it takes the Democrats twenty years just to fix all the things the GOP fucks up in six.

    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

    You might not have a choice. One of your major parties has already recognized that it can keep staking the system itself for a brief electoral advantage.

    And yet we're not living under a Republican budget. I might feel differently after november if the GOP just somehow wins all the votes, but I don't see how our system is anymore messed up than Canada or the UK's.

    NHS reforms would be an example where the Tories are just saying "fuck it" to public opinion (or even coalition opinion).

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    ronya wrote: »
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

    You might not have a choice. One of your major parties has already recognized that it can keep staking the system itself for a brief electoral advantage.

    And yet we're not living under a Republican budget. I might feel differently after november if the GOP just somehow wins all the votes, but I don't see how our system is anymore messed up than Canada or the UK's.

    NHS reforms would be an example where the Tories are just saying "fuck it" to public opinion (or even coalition opinion).

    You miss the point. Under a fusion of powers, a party that wins all the votes would be no different from that in a separation of powers, so you seem to be objecting to some specter which doesn't really exist. If you want to see the horror* of a unified Republican budget, try the early GWB administration.

    The problem is a system of government where two bodies have an incentive to claim the democratic mandate and refuse to back down. If this ever results in you living under a partisan budget, your system has already broken down because it failed to force a deal of some sort and you effectively had no separation anyway. But the transition might not nice to experience, particularly if the parties involved pile on the stakes to include the entire welfare system and the full faith and credit of the United States, and in the meanwhile the more unscrupulous find that they can make much hay of steadily eroding past political conventions for brief benefit.

    edit: *This is sarcasm. It was not good but more or less the same as what unified neoconservative-influenced governments in parliamentary systems get up to. That's the point.

    ronya on
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  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

    You might not have a choice. One of your major parties has already recognized that it can keep staking the system itself for a brief electoral advantage.

    And yet we're not living under a Republican budget. I might feel differently after november if the GOP just somehow wins all the votes, but I don't see how our system is anymore messed up than Canada or the UK's.

    NHS reforms would be an example where the Tories are just saying "fuck it" to public opinion (or even coalition opinion).

    You miss the point. Under a fusion of powers, a party that wins all the votes would be no different from that in a separation of powers, so you seem to be objecting to some specter which doesn't really exist. If you want to see the horror* of a unified Republican budget, try the early GWB administration.

    The problem is a system of government where two bodies have an incentive to claim the democratic mandate and refuse to back down. If this ever results in you living under a partisan budget, your system has already broken down because it failed to force a deal of some sort and you effectively had no separation anyway. But the transition might not nice to experience, particularly if the parties involved pile on the stakes to include the entire welfare system and the full faith and credit of the United States, and in the meanwhile the more unscrupulous find that they can make much hay of steadily eroding past political conventions for brief benefit.

    edit: *This is sarcasm. It was not good but more or less the same as what unified neoconservative-influenced governments in parliamentary systems get up to. That's the point.

    That's a fair point. I don't want to seem like I think the US somehow magically has a better set of checks and balances and ike I've said, I'm not morally opposed to a parliamentary system, but I don't see how it would solve our problems.

    I live in Florida, where the Tea Party has been in control since basically 1845 and I do not want to see that on the national level. We have a lot of things we need to deal with in our government, but I remain unconvinced that switching to a parliament system would solve them because the things we would need to do to make it workable would also fix our system.

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  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

    You might not have a choice. One of your major parties has already recognized that it can keep staking the system itself for a brief electoral advantage.

    And yet we're not living under a Republican budget. I might feel differently after november if the GOP just somehow wins all the votes, but I don't see how our system is anymore messed up than Canada or the UK's.

    NHS reforms would be an example where the Tories are just saying "fuck it" to public opinion (or even coalition opinion).

    You miss the point. Under a fusion of powers, a party that wins all the votes would be no different from that in a separation of powers, so you seem to be objecting to some specter which doesn't really exist. If you want to see the horror* of a unified Republican budget, try the early GWB administration.

    The difference is the US uses staggered terms for the Reps, President, and Senators. So you get divided government all the time, often even after a landslide election for one party. In a parliamentary system, the executive and legislative are always from the same party by construction.

  • Dis'Dis' Registered User regular
    enc0re wrote: »
    I see no reason to suspect that switching to a parliamentary system in the US would give rise to a third party. As far as I'm concerned, it's a freak accident that the UK has three parties in a FPTP system.

    Accident? Its very explicable - Labour is/was so focused on its urban, trade union, working class roots that it alienated the rural poor of the western fringe counties and middle/upper class left leaning people, and the dying Liberals of the 19th century were able to latch onto that to make half a party.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    enc0re wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    I mean fine, for what it's worth, I'm not really willing to take that chance.

    You might not have a choice. One of your major parties has already recognized that it can keep staking the system itself for a brief electoral advantage.

    And yet we're not living under a Republican budget. I might feel differently after november if the GOP just somehow wins all the votes, but I don't see how our system is anymore messed up than Canada or the UK's.

    NHS reforms would be an example where the Tories are just saying "fuck it" to public opinion (or even coalition opinion).

    You miss the point. Under a fusion of powers, a party that wins all the votes would be no different from that in a separation of powers, so you seem to be objecting to some specter which doesn't really exist. If you want to see the horror* of a unified Republican budget, try the early GWB administration.

    The difference is the US uses staggered terms for the Reps, President, and Senators. So you get divided government all the time, often even after a landslide election for one party. In a parliamentary system, the executive and legislative are always from the same party by construction.
    You can have staggered elections for one body just as easily, in much the same way Congress itself is constituted. Parliamentary systems do not necessarily require that dissolution and general election be the only way to resolve deadlock - they can, for instance, have procedural rules favoring a degree of coalition instability, so that ruling coalitions face practical limitations on what they can do with their mandate. More plausibly a system can permit dissolution but make it somewhat more difficult, as per Germany or Canada.

    Bicameral directly elected legislatures exist, too - the Australian one has an overt safety valve that opens both the Senate and the House to election when disagreement is irresolvable. But when this is not the case, the houses are not elected at the same time.

    e: oh wait, I misread your post. Regardless of staggered terms, the US does in fact frequently see a party temporarily gain majorities in the electoral college, House, and Senate from time to time.

    ronya on
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  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    My point stands that in a parliamentary system, the ruling legislative coalition also forms the executive. Historically in the US, that's the exception not the norm.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    Dis' wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    I see no reason to suspect that switching to a parliamentary system in the US would give rise to a third party. As far as I'm concerned, it's a freak accident that the UK has three parties in a FPTP system.

    Accident? Its very explicable - Labour is/was so focused on its urban, trade union, working class roots that it alienated the rural poor of the western fringe counties and middle/upper class left leaning people, and the dying Liberals of the 19th century were able to latch onto that to make half a party.

    Accident in the sense that it was a unique UK historical circumstance. Almost always, FPTP ends in a two-party system. In fact, I would wager that even the UK will end up in that situation eventually. Unless they decide not too, seeing how they operate under that funny 'we make the constitution up as we go' system.

  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    enc0re wrote: »
    Dis' wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    I see no reason to suspect that switching to a parliamentary system in the US would give rise to a third party. As far as I'm concerned, it's a freak accident that the UK has three parties in a FPTP system.

    Accident? Its very explicable - Labour is/was so focused on its urban, trade union, working class roots that it alienated the rural poor of the western fringe counties and middle/upper class left leaning people, and the dying Liberals of the 19th century were able to latch onto that to make half a party.

    Accident in the sense that it was a unique UK historical circumstance. Almost always, FPTP ends in a two-party system. In fact, I would wager that even the UK will end up in that situation eventually. Unless they decide not too, seeing how they operate under that funny 'we make the constitution up as we go' system.

    I don't think that's really a fair characterization of UK constitutional law.

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    enc0re wrote: »
    My point stands that in a parliamentary system, the ruling legislative coalition also forms the executive. Historically in the US, that's the exception not the norm.

    Well, yes. What of it? There is nothing that requires divided government, so if AManFromEarth fears a Republican majority in House, Senate, and Presidency, he's already lived it before. It did not end the world.

    On that note - historically in the US there were a number of other forces that tended to encourage deference to mandates in federal government post-Civil-War, not least the tendency for the formal division of power to be de facto expressions of bargains hammered out at lower levels.

    ronya on
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  • AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    My point stands that in a parliamentary system, the ruling legislative coalition also forms the executive. Historically in the US, that's the exception not the norm.

    Well, yes. What of it? There is nothing that requires divided government, so if AManFromEarth fears a Republican majority in House, Senate, and Presidency, he's already lived it before. It did not end the world.

    On that note - historically in the US there were a number of other forces that tended to encourage deference to mandates in federal government post-Civil-War, not least the tendency for the formal division of power to be de facto expressions of bargains hammered out at lower levels.

    Actually the democrats held the house for a large amount of time between WW2 and the 1994 election. In that time period we got many things done with both Republican and Democratic presidents. The current stagnation is a relatively new thing.

    I don't fear a Republican take over ending the world, I don't want it because these people are crazy and I like that the Senate and the Administration is there to stop them.

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  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    ronya wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    My point stands that in a parliamentary system, the ruling legislative coalition also forms the executive. Historically in the US, that's the exception not the norm.

    Well, yes. What of it? There is nothing that requires divided government, so if AManFromEarth fears a Republican majority in House, Senate, and Presidency, he's already lived it before. It did not end the world.

    On that note - historically in the US there were a number of other forces that tended to encourage deference to mandates in federal government post-Civil-War, not least the tendency for the formal division of power to be de facto expressions of bargains hammered out at lower levels.

    Actually the democrats held the house for a large amount of time between WW2 and the 1994 election. In that time period we got many things done with both Republican and Democratic presidents. The current stagnation is a relatively new thing.

    I don't fear a Republican take over ending the world, I don't want it because these people are crazy and I like that the Senate and the Administration is there to stop them.

    Dixiecrats, yo.

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    My point stands that in a parliamentary system, the ruling legislative coalition also forms the executive. Historically in the US, that's the exception not the norm.

    Well, yes. What of it? There is nothing that requires divided government, so if AManFromEarth fears a Republican majority in House, Senate, and Presidency, he's already lived it before. It did not end the world.

    On that note - historically in the US there were a number of other forces that tended to encourage deference to mandates in federal government post-Civil-War, not least the tendency for the formal division of power to be de facto expressions of bargains hammered out at lower levels.

    This is really simple. If you favor a divided legislative and executive, then a US-style presidential system which can possibly (and in the US case usually) give you divided government is preferable to a parliamentary system which can't.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    enc0re wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    enc0re wrote: »
    My point stands that in a parliamentary system, the ruling legislative coalition also forms the executive. Historically in the US, that's the exception not the norm.

    Well, yes. What of it? There is nothing that requires divided government, so if AManFromEarth fears a Republican majority in House, Senate, and Presidency, he's already lived it before. It did not end the world.

    On that note - historically in the US there were a number of other forces that tended to encourage deference to mandates in federal government post-Civil-War, not least the tendency for the formal division of power to be de facto expressions of bargains hammered out at lower levels.

    This is really simple. If you favor a divided legislative and executive, then a US-style presidential system which can possibly (and in the US case usually) give you divided government is preferable to a parliamentary system which can't.

    Insofar as the key strength of divided government is encouraging cautiousness and compromise by all involved, I should note that parliamentary coalitions are quite capable of delivering the same effect.

    There are at least two preconditions which, I think, it is reasonable to claim are necessities for divided presidential government to be desirable: what happens in the event of unresolved deadlock should be tolerable, and there must be a political force outside of formal election which legitimately weakens every incoming mandate's strength so that a new government or majority does not feel entitled toward being able to pursue its agenda over opposition in other branches (and feeling duly provoked when, by formal division of powers, it cannot). Insofar as successfully accusing the incumbent of being un-American, un-Constitutional, etc. tends to make one the new government, there must be some way for remnants of the old government to exercise their constitutionally-granted powers in a legitimate fashion, i.e., without generating the sense that a system the losers don't abide by is protecting them. More generally, if you want a system that stably tolerates divided government, there must always be a reaction (against claims of a national mandate) that is legitimate even to the winners. Constitutions do not legitimize themselves.

    I think the US used to have easy answers to either of these questions at the federal level, but that now it is not so easily assured.

    ronya on
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  • HamurabiHamurabi AmsterdamRegistered User regular
    Well, there would be some kind of sunset provisions for the current Congress to expire and the parliamentary system would be enacted after new elections in like, 2020.

    Well that's a separate issue about implementation. What I'm saying is would you want the Tea Party to have sole control over the US government without the Senate and the Obama Administration stopping their shit? This is why I find checks and balances important.

    I tend to think they would never gain or quickly lose their power for a generation if they could actually get their shit passed. But I am an optimist.

    This is the crux of the problem, I think.

    By all accounts, the policies the GOP propounds -- social, economic, political, etc. -- will be disastrous for the country... but how do you prove it? There's always that inkling at the back of the mind of the electorate that maybe the economy would be better off under a Republican (even though we know that a Republican president and/or Congress wouldn't have passed something like the stimulus, which objectively helped the economy). Some of them might even vote for the Republican candidate this fall because they figure, "Hey, maybe those other guys are worth a shot." I'm not saying that's a legitimate way of thinking about something as critical as government, but it's a non-trivial portion of the electorate, imo.

  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    The generational change issue may be just a pattern that holds true in a lot of countries.

    In NZ many governments have managed to hold power for nearly or over a decade.

    In NZ anyway, of the last ten three year election cycles (1984-2011), the Labour Party has had two governments last 6 and 9 years and National has had the same but reversed.

    In the UK, Labour and the Tories both had governments lasting over ten years over the last 30

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Kalkino wrote: »
    In the UK, Labour and the Tories both had governments lasting over ten years over the last 30

    And it's perhaps worth noting that the end of both of those governments happened not because the opposition looked particularly attractive (quite the reverse) but because the voters had become so sickened by the arrogant complacency, blatant corruption and increasing incompetence that they voted those governments out rather than voting the opposition in. The end of the Brown regime mirrored that of the Major to an eerie degree.

    However, both of the long governments were marked by making a lot of achievements and mistakes too of course) and enacting radical reforms in the first half the the period.

    Basically the UK system allows an active government to get a lot done, but it also allows them to linger on long past the time when their ideas have been exhausted and they're simply governing because they're the government, and can fairly trivially block any opposition policy. The US system seems to allow for a hugely more powerful role for the opposition, at the expense of hamstringing the governing party.

  • SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    edited March 2012
    I am an advocate for parliamentary systems, mostly because they offer real choice. For instance, this is the approximate current make up of the Dutch Parliament (with 3 word indication of the party stance)

    21% VVD (Free Market Reformers)
    16% PVV (Nationalistic Populist Conservatives)
    14% CDA (Christian Moderate Conservatives)
    21% PvdA (Moderate Labour)
    12% SP (Leftwing Socialists)
    7% D66 (Democratic Liberal Reformers)
    6% GL (Green Left Reformers)
    1.5% PvdD (Animal Rights Party)

    The balance has been 6-10 parties for decades now (Though with vastly different seats and political interests.) There have been parties that get up to 20% and fall to 5%, or come in as a new party at 15% (and either fizzle quickly or find stable footing). Almost anyone can feel one of the above would somewhat accurately portray their views.

    Historically, most of our coaliations will have 2 out of VVD/CDA/PvdA, since they are they are the big central parties, and often 1 other. The unfortunate current combination is VVD/PVV/CDA (The VVD won the election by about 0.2% and thus got offered first choice to set up a coalition and choose 'as rightwing as possible'). I disagree with many choices they make, but they at least get to make choices. The Dutch government can respond to a crisis. We have had major revisions of (our equivalents of) Tax Law, Social Security, Unemployment Benefits, Welfare in the last decade, and more revisions incoming. We rescued our banks in the financial crisis in a single weekend, did an economic stimulus package after about two weeks of debate.

    The balance in a coalition government is that any partner can end the partnership if the government takes an action they cannot sign off on. To prevent this, every Dutch government goes through a formation period where a general of outline between the parties that are entering the coalition (Governance Accord). Coalitions tend to fall only when events happen that require actions far outside this accord (For instance, currently the PVV is having real issues with proposals for additional deficit cuts that hurt middle incomes and eldery), or rarer when enough dissidents in the party agree to vote 'no confidence' for the Prime Minister (a 51% no confidence vote is immediate grounds for the fall of the Cabinet). All in all, Cabinets don't fall all that often. In the last 30 years there have only been 4 Prime-Ministers, in a total of 10 Cabinets (6 of them went to 4 year term, 3 fell relatively quickly, and 1 fell essentially during an election campaign for the next Cabinet)

    The second balance is that it only requires a 25% vote in parliament to be able to request a debate with the cabinet on any issue. These debates happen about 2-3x a week, where either the Prime-Minister or the responsible Minister is required to defend any particular action they have (not) taken. While the coalition can always vote to defend the taken action, bad answers during these televised debates are poison for the polls. Quite often the Parliament will end up voting for an action against the Cabinets will. For instance, currently the CDA is facing a near 50% loss of seats due to not being able to reconcile many government decisions with their base.

    This second area seems much preferable to the US system, where the President barely communicates openly with Congress at all. Almost everything is done via the media or behind closed doors.

    SanderJK on
    Steam: SanderJK Origin: SanderJK
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