June 24, 2014

Do We To Move To A Parliamentary System?

I ran across this observation the other day.

Commenting on the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, NBC’s Chuck Todd remarked, “This poll is a disaster for the president.” Indeed, he continued, “essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over.’ ”

But it isn’t over. It won’t be over for two and a half years. And that’s a problem.

We’re generally inclined to defend our presidential system of government as opposed to a parliamentary alternative. But if we weren’t so set in our ways and such fans of the Founders, this is one of those moments that could lead us to rethink our allegiance. It sure would be nice to be able to move a vote of no confidence in an American parliament right now, and take the issue of who should govern to the country. It would be wonderful not to be stuck with Barack Obama for two and a half more years.

But of course in our system, even if it were discovered that Barack Obama personally took a hammer to Lois Lerner’s hard drive in the Lincoln bedroom, and Obama were impeached and convicted, we’d end up with President Joe Biden. Which would be good for the late night comedians, but no better for America.

And let's be honest -- that illustrates an essential weakness of our system of government. A president who has lost whatever mandate he (or, for that matter, she) had when elected is still in power for a significant period of time. And even if the available mechanism for removing a president were to be successfully applied, the result is the installation of the rejected president's hand-picked successor -- often somebody who the American people would be unlikely to pick if given the choice. I'm not just talking "President Biden" -- would the words "President Cheney" have mollified the Bush-haters in 2007? Or "President Mondale" in 1979? Or, to be honest, "President Agnew" or "President Quayle" at any point during the terms of Richard Nixon or George H. W. Bush?

Imagine the revamping of our system along the British lines, where a "no confidence" vote would result in the removal of Barack Obama and the installation of a Republican president -- and not necessarily John Boehner, given that he would be an unlikely character to become party leader in a system where his immediate succession to the highest office in the land would be highly likely. Obamacare would have been gone in by the spring of 2011.

Instead we have 31 months remaining of a failed presidency characterized by abuse of power and the abrogation of the Constitution itself by a president who knows himself to be completely unaccountable -- especially since no American patriot could ever want to bring about a situation in which Joe Biden, America's crazy uncle, would become President.

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