If only America was a parliamentary democracy. Surely the conduct of our elected officials in Washington, D.C. over the last several weeks would have resulted in a vote of no confidence in the government and triggered new elections.
Instead, Americans will have to suffer through seventeen more months of dysfunction, incompetence, ignorance and vitriol. Our government has jeopardized our collective and individual financial well-being for years, if not decades, to come and embarrassed our great nation in the eyes of the world. Their “penalty” for such an egregious abdication of their responsibilities: five weeks of vacation, paid for by the very same taxpayers they just screwed.
For those of you unfamiliar with the workings of a parliamentary democracy (PD), allow me to over-simplify. Basically, it’s very similar to our system of government but with a few critical differences. What we call Congress, PDs call parliament. Members of parliament can be directly elected, which is how we vote in the United States, or appointed by political party in accordance with the voting results. So, for example, a party that garners 25 percent of the vote can appoint 25 percent of the members of parliament. Either way, it’s still a democratic system of government in which men and women eighteen and older cast a secret ballot.
The main difference between U.S.-style democracy and a PD concerns the composition of the executive branch. In a PD, power does not rest with a president, but a prime minister, who is also a member of parliament and the leader of his party. If his party wins a majority of the seats in parliament, then he forms a government, choosing his cabinet from the ranks of parliament as well. If his party does not have a majority, then he must form a coalition with one (or more) political parties.
In a PD, if parliament passes a “no confidence” motion, then the head of state—for example a queen—can either ask another member of parliament to try and form a government or she can dissolve the parliament—effectively throwing all of them out of office, including the prime minister and the cabinet—and call a new election entirely.
Oh, don’t I wish. It was galling enough when Congress went on vacation in the midst of economic calamity created by their budgets, tax policy, long wars, virtually non-existent oversight (of just about everything except Roger Clemens’ alleged use of steroids) and failure to reform entitlement programs.
Then to hear the President talk about all of the stuff we’re going to do “in a few weeks,” presumably when everyone’s done playing golf, was shocking. This isn’t leadership. It is abandonment, by the president and the Congress, of the American people.
But what amazes me the most is that, as far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been a single public rally or demonstration of note in this whole mess, except for one Missouri woman who rented a plane to fly a sign around New York City yesterday afternoon that said, “THANKS FOR THE DOWNGRADE. YOU SHOULD ALL BE FIRED!” That’s about it.
Why haven’t people marched on Washington? Initiated recall petitions? Staged sit ins at the Capitol and the congressional office buildings? Picketed outside of the White House? Have we become so disgusted we’ve given up? Are we too consumed by our own problems?
It is inconceivable that we can avoid additional calamity if this cast of characters remains in office much longer. At the same time, it doesn’t seem like we have much choice (or room for optimism looking out at the uninspiring candidates running in 2012). Unless, of course, we can convince Queen Elizabeth to take us back, dissolve the Congress and call new elections.
Besides, even if the Brits do put vinegar on their potato chips, the accents are pretty cool and William and Kate do seem lovely.