05 April 2016

Uncommon Commentary #499: (The USA’s Form of Government Isn’t up to) Par(; That’s My) Lament

“Parliamentary democracy” (e.g., the UK’s mode of government) has several advantages over “presidential democracy” (viz., the sort of system used here in the USA):
  1. In the former, there is such a thing as a no-confidence vote.  This means that, if enough members of the ruling party are of the opinion that they’ve erred in their choice of a prime minister, they can expel him from his office; they don’t have to wait four years for an opportunity to be rid of a national leader who is unequal to his responsibility, as we do. (A number of US States do have the equivalent, that is, recall elections, but these are not an option at the federal level.)
  2. If no party wins a majority of seats in the parliament, the one that got the most votes can form a coalition government by joining forces with parties that espouse similar ideologies.  For instance, if right-of-center Party A wins 200 of 499 seats, left-of-center Party F (since it likely deserves an “F”) wins 150, right-of-center Party B wins 50, and others win the rest, Party A can offer cabinet positions to members of Party B in exchange for the support of Party B as a whole, which will create a coalition with a total of 250 seats; even minor parties can thus play a rôle in government in such a system, and so it’s more truly representative of popular opinion than is ours. (See UC #358.) One major shortcoming of the USA’s winner-take-all system, pertaining to both Advantage #2 and Advantage #4, becomes clear as some frustrated Republicans propose a “conservative” third-party alternative to Donald Trump, which would fatally split the opposition to the Dumbocrats.
  3. In a land ruled by a parliament, the loyal opposition doesn’t vote, and so there is none of the legislative “gridlock” that plagues US politics; see Advantage #4.
  4. The national leader in a parliamentary country is not elected directly but, rather, chosen by the party or parties that compose the majority in the parliament.  The primary reason why the US government so seldom accomplishes anything is that the chief executive and the majority in one or both houses of Congress so often represent different political parties.

Parliamentary government, though, also has its drawbacks, which may or may not offset the advantages mentioned above.  In truth, I can’t recommend any variation of what we call modern “democracy”, which, in my opinion, is highly overrated. (For a better idea, read UC #241.) If you want to know the most important reason why I think this way, ask yourself two questions: 1) Do you agree that the West is undergoing a perpetual moral crisis? 2) Can you think of a worse method of governance than “democracy” for resolving a moral crisis?