President or Parliament?

By Team

The other day, Layla asked, “Did our founding fathers get it wrong?”  It was an interesting discussion.  Now let’s ask another question: Why did the framers choose a presidential system of government over a parliamentary form?

The single executive system was a British-American invention.  The Pilgrims, having been permitted to govern themselves in Plymouth Colony, created a system that utilized an independent executive branch wherein a governor was chosen by the colonial legislature (along with several assistants) to carry out the will of the legislature.  This was at about the same time as the British government flirted with Republicanism under The Protectorate.  The world’s first presidential system was created during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 — inspired by earlier colonial governments, English Common Law, and various philosophers.  One will note that nearly all Latin American independencies followed the American Constitutional model, as well.

The question is, was the adoption of a presidential system a smart move?  In the United Kingdom, for example, the Parliament (through the Prime Minister) controls the armed forces.  In the U.S., the president does that and, while Congress does require consultations, the only restriction of presidential power in this regard is Congress’s power of the purse.  If we have concerns that the U.S. involves itself in too many petty wars, this might be why.  Whatever happened to Congresses’ sole authority to declare war?

Of course, Neville Chamberlain didn’t distinguish himself in the period leading up to World War II … which suggests that the parliamentary system is “too slow” to react to international events.  There is less gridlock in the British Parliament because the government is the parliament; parliament is the government.  Here, gridlock produces frustration and, more to the point, less accountability for presidential action or inaction.  We may be squawking louder today than ever before about Biden’s policies — but does anyone think Mr. Biden cares?  He’s got carte blanche authority until the end of his term.  Besides, all Biden has to do to escape accountability is blame it (whatever “it” is) on Congress while congress points its finger back to the White House, which causes the American people to ask, “Qua?”

I’m curious. Do parliamentary systems better serve the interests of the people?  In what ways?  Is it true that presidential systems are better suited to the government for its own sake? 


Mustang blogs at Fix Bayonets and Thoughts From Afar

41 thoughts on “President or Parliament?

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  1. The only benefit I see to a parliamentary system is the ability to call for a vote of no confidence.
    One of the drawbacks I see to a parliamentary system is the ability to call for a vote of no confidence.
    Justin Trudeau (nee Castro) is the result of a parliamentary system.
    Joe Biden is the result of electoral theft.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Both systems have their points, but neither is perfect. We’ve so generously surrendered so much power to the Executive, that we’ve utterly perverted the system the Founders intended. And the two parties actually defend and protect that scheme – when it’s their party in power.

    What the nation needs, is actual political representation. What we have is an untenable choice between two abhorrent entities that does little but cause division and ‘gridlock’. As well as fomenting blindingly absurd conspiracy theories in a two athlete race to see who can cry about being the bigger victim.

    But on the above note, I’m generally in favor of ‘a government that governs least, governs best’.

    Start with ‘None of the Above’ on ballots; remove Democrat and Republican’s obstacles to additional political parties having access to the ballot. Then we’ll go from there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. CI,

      I do agree with the valid points you bring out, and if it was possible that could become a reality I am all for it. Until then I will prefer we were a parliament, but that also will not happen. I believe our nation sadly has gone over the edge and has tipped us to a point of possibly no return. Everything is so politically driven and politicians do not represent us they want to dictate to us.

      Like

    1. Yes, because if one cannot get things done due to the liberals and chaos of both parties can you really imagine three trying to work cohesively together? It will never happen, but a parliament is much more viable and very sustainable if you use UK for the example because Canada is now an utter failure.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mustang,

    Parliament examines what the Government is doing, makes new laws, holds the power to set taxes and debates the issues of the day. The House of Commons and House of Lords each play an important role in Parliament’s work. Anything that must be relooked at and considered of high priority goes to “The Crown.” The Crown has lasted over 1200 years and is a testament that as imperfect as every system is it has worked at the very least for the UK.

    It is time our system is revamped into a Parliament. This two-party system has become a disgrace and has held the US back and its citizenry for the last 50 years. Too much power. A Parliament would suit America well. Personally, I believe America should mingle with the UK Parliament and adhere to “The Crown.”

    Call me foolish but it has worked for 1200 years and our system a mere 200 years old is failing miserably despite its noble beginnings. I am done with the two-party system. We need a Boris Johnson. Sorry, but I may become an ex-pat and move back to the UK. I have no confidence in our government at all.

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  4. AOW,

    The parliamentary system kowtows to so many factions!

    Not unlike our two-party system that kowtows to all the special interest groups, BLM, CRT, and Go Green! It is always hard to get good people that will serve the people — a few intend to but the swamp drags them in and they become stuck on themselves with power not unlike in the UK. No system is perfect but our cousins seem to still be doing a better job than us sad as it is true.

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  5. Our American system was originally intended to allow its individual States to govern themselves independently. We began as a confederation under the Articles of Confederation, but it was decided after the war for independence that stronger bonds were required to coordinate matters of defense, interstate commerce and banking. The States could not be relied upon to contribute their fair share of the funds necessary to pay the national debt incurred in achieving independence Later, the Civil War destroyed all notions of State autonomy as the question of secession was “forcefully” decided.

    At the time of the nation’s birth, a parliamentary system would not have allowed for state independence. A “unitary” executive was also an absolute requirement for national defense.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In other words, I believe that the conditions encountered determined and established the ultimate “form” our national government acquired.

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        1. Better to play a game that you know than one it takes much time and experience to learn.

          And until it’s completely broken and I have nothing left to lose, I wish to keep playing this game.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. …and after this one breaks, I believe it wise to start at a smaller scale, as our colonial fathers did, and build their way up. Are you familiar with the Islamic Courts Union of Somalia?

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        1. I don’t propose. To change opens the door to many dangers from a Constitutional Convention or the like. I do not trust any leader today sufficiently to make a significant change.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It’s like the NFL. I can’t watch it any more. The rule changes and subsequent “officiating” has ruined the game for me.

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  6. There was nothing wrong with our system of government until the Congress became lazy. No longer even interested in writing bills. There was a time when getting a bill through committee was a big deal. Regular order. It was debated, cleaned up and for the most part a compromise. Then for numerous reasons, the Congress waived its responsibilities and shoved it off on so called “Agency Rules.” Those dastardly deeds that appeared daily in the Federal Register… one of my work assignments was to review them every day to see if it effected our health care system. The nonsense that came through was an eye opener. Its online now I understand. Just look for just one day on the nonsensical rules that are “proposed” then in 60 days become law.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bunkerville… speaking of regular order…

      In 1975 the Speaker of the House, Carl Albert got the house to give the Speaker more power over the work of committees as well as the ability to define each committee’s jurisdiction.

      However not much changed in the next few years as regular order pretty continued.

      It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that we saw regular order really take a hit. Looking at numbers, graphs, etc, we can track the death of regular order and the paucity of bills from Congress to that period of time.

      More recently, Sen John McCain before his death was a strong voice for a return to regular order, but was mostly ignored by politicians from both sides of the aisle.

      Sadly, we will never go back. Because no Speaker, from either party, will ever choose to limit their own power.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks for the information… Now self interests write the bills… obtuse enough so that the agencies and fine tool it to get the desired result… Sure.. I can just see Nancy giving up power…

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  7. The reason why a “parliament” would be no better than our current government is because we no longer have a government. We have a “system of control” in which the theatre in Washington DC serves as “mask”. Adam Curtis’ “Hypernormalisation” best explains our current situation. Don’t believe me? The Federal Reserve is currently trying to sell $9 TRILLION in debt obligations on the world market and is finding no buyers. DC’s reaction is simply to print more money and put it on the federal reserve’s “to be sold” list resulting in massive inflation. This will continue until the problem of hyperinflation becomes “unmaskable”. A Venezuelan type situation is imminent… only “dollars” will be the problem, not Bolivares.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When Aleksandr Dugin (Putin’s brain) speaks out against “individualism”, he is speaking out against our current, modern, “society of control” that is preventing “collective action” to re-establish national sovereignty over the “globalist economic” system. His attack on Ukraine signifies his departure from this system. And it would appear that many other nations, China and India included, are following his lead.

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  8. CI gets the blue ribbon for “a government that governs least, governs best.” Apparently, we, the people, are confused. John, for example, either does not know history or has learned nothing from it — that he wants to create a politburo does not surprise me in the least. The rest of us seem to think that we are the government. Nothing can be further from the truth than that pail of hogwash. Government exists today to perpetuate itself, to nail down all those loose ends so that “the people” have less wiggle room in an increasingly authoritarian government. The U.S. government today is working fine for all government officials, bureaucrats, and those who have become its servant. As CI said so well, it is no longer working as originally intended (if it ever did). There is nothing that any of us can do about this situation … and nothing will change in this country as long as the lazy dim bulbs who vote continue to vote “party” because their daddy voted party.

    “The government you elect is the government you deserve.” —Thomas Jefferson

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    1. So true Mustang. Jefferson called it right, and so did you and CI. I always am in agreement with AOW as she articulates much of my own beliefs, sometimes better than me! 🙂

      Much of what I believe on this topic is “pollyanna” wishing. In reality, I know the truth. Nothing will change and the “people” created this monster. I am blessed that my father always taught us to “vote for the best person (sadly seems all fall short now) NOT the party.”

      I would suppose no one to date has figured out that the party will use you and use you up then discard you. GOPs saying this is what Democrats do? Guess what it is what Republicans do too. Let none of them fool us!

      Like

  9. If you want to see what a Parliamentary government would look like, look no further than the DNC.
    The DNC has gathered it’s power through pandering to many groups of minority issue voting blocks each representing a ‘relativity’ small portion of voters but potentially, a lot of money and power through combined numbers at the voting booth.
    Ascendant, at this time, are the Eco/”green energy” blocks, racialist “victim hood” blocks and “sexual identity” –including those advocating for normalization of pedophilia–” blocks, which together combine under the umbrella of what they call “intersectionality”.

    Basically, I see only three groups; those who believe in Natural Rights -individual rights as enumerated under the Constitution- and those who believe in “Group Rights” -or “salvation” achieved through the power of the State as members of groups with special or privileged rights and the destruction of the Constitution as it is now written. The third group consist of the unconcerned, ignorant and uneducated.
    The biggest problems I see with our present form of government are:
    The unaccountably of politicians.
    The delegation of power to nameless faceless bureaucrats and bureaus.
    The centralization and acquisition of power within the government.
    The unanswerability to the Constitution at every level of government.

    I feel no need to write a monograph but fear the tendency to do so.
    So, yes, our form of government is the most horrible…. except for all the rest.
    Cats don’t take to herding!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Politics in its most pure form, is to be a battle of ideas. Our current system only rewards battles of grandstanding, stonewalling and virtue signaling.

    As we can see from other governments around the planet, a parliamentary system is no better in that regard. But it increased political representation……I’d give it a whirl.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Were it not for the checks and balances in our form of government, the Lord only knows where we’d be right now. That’s what’s missing from the British Parliament, and the only gridlock they encounter is between the labor and conservative benches. Of course, British labour hasn’t had an original idea since Moby Dick was a minnow and the Tories are still holding the monarch captive in her five-star prison. Where I think you and I can easily agree is in the fact that one of our greatest problems is our evolution toward professional politicians. The framers never saw that coming, or they would have placed constitutional limitations on elective offices. My own personal view is that America is effed; I’ve had a great run, but I feel sorry for the grandkids. They are so screwed.

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      1. @Mustang – one of our greatest problems is our evolution toward professional politicians.

        I’m not one to pray, but I feel an Amen is in order. The professional political class, which is an integral part of the Duopoly, is the root cause of our current problems [politically speaking anyway]. probably a side effect of politicians in the Colonial era being distinctly of the landed gentry, with holdings and ventures that would keep them from a life of diatribe-ing and voting…..I certainly agree that the Founders could not have envisioned this in a Constitutional Republic. But like the fiefdoms and lesser to middle nobility before them, we birthed an elite class that remains to this day.

        I’m not far removed from the ‘burn it down and start over’ mindset, but I have the luxury of being rather prepared to endure that calamity.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mustang where are our checks and balances? The Democrats are insane and the GOP looks the other way staying off the grid! In my humble opinion, both parties have lost sight of what this nation was originally founded for – what is truly Constitutional and not Constitutional – they definitely need to reread many times until they understand the Constitution, not to mention the Declaration of Independence. This nation to see a future must go back to its roots otherwise we are finished. I do not see any checks and balances in our government anymore. They are incorrigible and untrustworthy the whole lot of them.

        I am not saying the Parliament is any better in the UK. But I do believe if we cannot do better it is worth the try to save the nation and we can still have “checks and balances.”

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        1. You’re right, Layla. Executive checks legislature, legislature checks executive, judiciary checks both. Executive chooses judiciary, legislature confirms judiciary, House funds judiciary, Senate checks House, vice versa, It’s a mess. If we didn’t have professional politicians, we might actually improve on the way stuff works in the Sewage City.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. It just occurred to me that some of those battles are long over … yet we continue to argue them. What more needs to be said about Communism? We should begin with Lenin’s clarification that the purpose of socialism is communism and move on from there. Maybe toward something that actually works, such as far less government and abiding faith in our people. Time for a G&T.

      Liked by 2 people

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