Senates are for wimps, real democracies have parliaments by mattsteinglass
September 22, 2009, 12:51 am
Filed under: Politics

This, at least, seems to be the conventional wisdom at the moment. Or at least it’s the wisdom espoused by Matthew Yglesias. And I basically agree. What’s weird, though, is that’s it precisely the inverse of the conventional wisdom when I was in high school back during the Khanate of Tamerlane Reagan presidency. In those days people used to make fun of how parliamentary systems like the Israeli one were paralyzed by dozens of tiny parties who each had a veto over various areas of social policy, or, like the Dutch one, had so many little parties that they ended up with a boring grey coalition of middle-of-the-road blah-blah that left everyone feeling unrepresented, or, like the Italian one, were constantly collapsing and having to call new elections. This was one of the most solid and familiar planks in the “Europe weak, America strong” paradigm we all had subconsciously drummed into our skulls from birth until we were old enough to go see “Red Dawn” by ourselves.

The most hilarious thing about it was that the suggestion was that the divisions in parliamentary democracies left them unable to pass major legislation. Ha, ha, tee hee hee, ho ho. You know what cracks me up even more? Ever since I moved to Vietnam I’ve been hearing that the problem with the Vietnamese National Assembly is that it lacks the capacity, both in terms of professional expertise at the staffer level and in terms of experience in moving through debates to votes, to pass major legislation fast enough for a dynamic and modern economy. Christ almighty, stop it, you’re killing me.


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I wasn’t aware that there was a hard-and-fast rule as to what constitutes a senate and what constitutes a parliament. All the same, the US constitution is one of the world’s most immobile, and whilst this may seem to offer protection of liberty, the past eight years have shown how this is often not the case.

Comment by foarp

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