About that Prime Mininster of the United States thing...
I posted a blog earlier today with a link to Fareed Zakaria's CNN proposition that it might be time for the US to take a cue from other nations and consider a parliamentary form of government. He touted it on his Sunday talk show and was back in prime time Wednesday night, selling its virtues and answering some of the criticism the idea is getting on the web and elsewhere.
Our system is broken, to be sure, but it's not yet time to toss out the masterpiece our founding fathers crafted for us.
What they handed down was a work of art, crafted from years of oppression from a king and his parliamentary government. They knew from whence they wrote. They had the foresight to develop a presidency instead of royalty as well as separation of powers.
And what have we done with this Ferrari? We've hung fuzzy dice on the rear view mirror. We added curb feelers. And spinny hubcabs, plus neon underbody lights and a stuffed dog in the rear window whose eyes light up each time we hit the brakes. Oh, yeah: we also let the air of the tires and allowed the engine to run on about a quarter of it's cylinders while refusing to take it out of first gear.
By allowing outside interests to control elections through outlandish spending on distorted and defamatory ads, by giving PAC's unfettered access to Capitol Hill, by making sure we allow all sorts of wrenches to be tossed into the governmental gears (show me in the Constitution where it says anything about the need for a filibuster) we've effectively turned DC into a viper pit controlled by big money, abetted by rules that make sure gridlock rules because, God forbid, Congress would do anything that would get us off this troublesome course.
The free flow of cash into campaigns means our lawmakers are bought and paid for--made slaves to the special interests who fueled their victories and thus, control their destinies when it comes time for re-election. It also amps up partisanship: who wants to compromise and get things done if their votes are seen as a sign of weakness, of being a Republican or Democrat "in name only"?
The system doesn't need to be changed. It needs to be cleaned. Zakaria is right--our current system is hopelessly grid locked, fatally partisan and slow to respond in a world that demands deliberate reaction. Other countries aren't better suited for this because they have a prime minister and a majority/majority government. While they may have better bond ratings, there are plenty of places with parliaments in place who have bigger problems than we do.
As always, it comes down to courage. Is our government self-aware enough to know it's in dire need of a sandblasting, a return to the basics, a realization that what we had when we started is far better than the bloated, ineffective mutation we're left with? At a time when critical decisions need to be made to save us from financial ruin, is anyone confident that this pack of partisan, ill-tempered "my way or the highway" true believers can lead us back from the edge?
Sadly, there are too many people who are profiting and powerful thanks to this broken system. Until it's fixed, expect more of the same from Washington and more desperate solutions, even from guys with brains as big as Mr. Zakaria's.