Discussion:
WI: The United States was a Parliamentary Democracy
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jerry kraus
2017-09-26 13:09:12 UTC
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Let's suppose, just hypothetically, that the U.S. was a Parliamentary Democracy, like Israel, with no real executive authority outside of Parliament, and the President having an essentially symbolic role and ceremonial role. So, the leaders of the legislature would effectively control all aspects of the country, and, the President would merely serve a public relations function, with no direct authority over the military, domestic or foreign policy. He could express quite forceful opinions, and try to influence policy and events, but, wouldn't really control anything at all. What would that be like, exactly? Any thoughts, at all? We can use ASB's or anything you like to arrive at this state of affairs, of course.
Don Phillipson
2017-09-26 14:54:06 UTC
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Post by jerry kraus
Let's suppose, just hypothetically, that the U.S. was a Parliamentary
Democracy, like Israel, with no real executive authority outside of
Parliament . . .
There is no comparison so far as Israel is a unitary state (like Britain, or
at least England and Wales) while the USA is a federation of quasi-
autonomous states. (Not many Americans seem to grasp this difference.)
In a unitary state, elected legislators purport to represent their
constituents,
and these constituents are in essence the only components of the state.
(I.e. county or city governments do not count, or hardly.) The USA is
different twice over, because Congressmen (elected to represent the
people) cannot claim priority over Senators (who represent the
component states) and vice versa.

We need not doubt that Jefferson, Franklin and co. failed to foresee this:
but they judged anything better than monarchical authority. They could
not either foresee The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown
Government in America (Frank Buckley, 2014) which argues that
Congressional paralysis increases scope for presidents to acquire
more power.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
jerry kraus
2017-09-26 18:09:30 UTC
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Post by Don Phillipson
Post by jerry kraus
Let's suppose, just hypothetically, that the U.S. was a Parliamentary
Democracy, like Israel, with no real executive authority outside of
Parliament . . .
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Don Phillipson
There is no comparison so far as Israel is a unitary state (like Britain, or
at least England and Wales) while the USA is a federation of quasi-
autonomous states. (Not many Americans seem to grasp this difference.)
In a unitary state, elected legislators purport to represent their
constituents,
and these constituents are in essence the only components of the state.
(I.e. county or city governments do not count, or hardly.)
Australia is a federation of independent states, just like the U.S., Don, but it is also a Parliamentary Democracy. I'm really just suggesting that the U.S. government was set up along lines similar to Australia.


The USA is
Post by Don Phillipson
different twice over, because Congressmen (elected to represent the
people) cannot claim priority over Senators (who represent the
component states) and vice versa.
Yes, Don, you're correct, the complex balance of powers in the U.S. is quite unique. Americans actually have an expression for it -- the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, which is generally very much the condition of the U.S. government, at all levels! I suppose I'm proposing the elimination of the two levels of legislature, and replacement with a single legislative chamber. Some states already have done this in the U.S., actually.
Post by Don Phillipson
but they judged anything better than monarchical authority. They could
not either foresee The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown
Government in America (Frank Buckley, 2014) which argues that
Congressional paralysis increases scope for presidents to acquire
more power.
Well, that certainly isn't the case with the current President, Don! Trump is so totally incompetent that, effectively, despite everything, the U.S. is currently functioning as a kind of Parliamentary democracy, with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell as Prime Minister. Next year the Democrats will take the U.S. Congress, and Chuck Schumer of New York will be America's first Jewish Prime Minister!
Post by Don Phillipson
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
The Horny Goat
2017-09-27 04:50:09 UTC
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On Tue, 26 Sep 2017 11:09:30 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
There is no comparison so far as Israel is a unitary state (like Britain,=
or
at least England and Wales) while the USA is a federation of quasi-
autonomous states. (Not many Americans seem to grasp this difference.)
In a unitary state, elected legislators purport to represent their=20
constituents,
and these constituents are in essence the only components of the state.
(I.e. county or city governments do not count, or hardly.)=20
Australia is a federation of independent states, just like the U.S., Don, b=
ut it is also a Parliamentary Democracy. I'm really just suggesting that t=
he U.S. government was set up along lines similar to Australia.
Uh 'set up along lines similar to Australia'?!? I assume you know the
significance of 1776 and 1783 in US constitutional history.

I assume you also know the significance of 1788 in Australia. If not
Google "Botany Bay". The Australian colonies did not vote to form a
federation until the very early 20th century by which time most of
what Americans take for granted was firmly in place.

Much of what you say about Australia is true mostly because Australia
has a small number of states relative to the USA. One suspects
American federalism would be quite different if there were 15-20
states much larger than those of OTL in 2017 or even 1917.

One thing Australia does NOT really have a history of is creating new
state after state after state the way the US and Canada does. (And
what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan went through 2 or 3 iterations
before gaining their present boundaries in 1905)

Certainly one thing all three countries have in common are gold rushes
in their more isolated western regions.
Don Phillipson
2017-09-26 21:35:46 UTC
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. . . not either foresee The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown
Government in America (Frank Buckley, 2014) which argues that
Congressional paralysis increases scope for presidents to acquire
more power.
. . .Trump is so totally incompetent that, effectively, despite
everything,
the U.S. is currently functioning as a kind of Parliamentary democracy,
with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell as Prime Minister. . . .
No, Buckley's thesis remains that "Congressional paralysis increases
scope for presidents to acquire more power." When he published, he
could cite Johnson, Nixon and Reagan as presidents who wanted
more power and took it (and I am not sure about Clinton.) But Obama
did not deploy his executive powers (so much as his predecessors)
and I don't know that today's incumbent knows what to do with the
power he currently enjoys, let alone exploit Congressional paralysis
to increase it.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
jerry kraus
2017-09-27 18:29:07 UTC
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----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Don Phillipson
. . . not either foresee The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown
Government in America (Frank Buckley, 2014) which argues that
Congressional paralysis increases scope for presidents to acquire
more power.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Don Phillipson
. . .Trump is so totally incompetent that, effectively, despite
everything,
the U.S. is currently functioning as a kind of Parliamentary democracy,
with Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell as Prime Minister. . . .
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Don Phillipson
No, Buckley's thesis remains that "Congressional paralysis increases
scope for presidents to acquire more power." When he published, he
could cite Johnson, Nixon and Reagan as presidents who wanted
more power and took it (and I am not sure about Clinton.) But Obama
did not deploy his executive powers (so much as his predecessors)
and I don't know that today's incumbent knows what to do with the
power he currently enjoys, let alone exploit Congressional paralysis
to increase it.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
No, Don. Congressional Paralysis makes it impossible for the President to do anything. The President's only direct authority is to conduct foreign policy and as commander-in-chief of wars declared by Congress. A Prime Minister is, on the other hand, a true "King", because obedience to party authority is the only way for anyone to stay in power in a Parliamentary democracy. If the Party in power loses a no-confidence vote in Parliament, they have to have an election. In Congress, party loyalty is whimsically enforced, at best.

Presidents acquire power by their ability to influence Congress, almost exclusively. They influence Congress by means of their popularity, personality, and ability to affect the likelihood of individual congressmen and assemblymen being reelected. Johnson acquired power by means of his experience in Congress. Nixon abused his office, and was forced to resign. Reagan used his charisma and popularity to manipulate Congress.

Trump is charismatic, but so unpopular that he not only fails to accomplish any of his objectives, but actually assures that they fail! Now, of course, Trump is an actor, so, this may be all so kind of deliberate "agent provocateur" effort on his part. Maybe his real agenda is the utter destruction of the Republican Party he supposedly leads. But, nevertheless, Trump is now so discredited that he is the first President who is virtually ignored by his own cabinet and military in the enactment of foreign policy. He is also the first President who has been under active criminal investigation by Congress from the very start of his Presidency.
Post by Don Phillipson
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
The Horny Goat
2017-09-27 18:48:36 UTC
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On Wed, 27 Sep 2017 11:29:07 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
No, Don. Congressional Paralysis makes it impossible for the President to=
do anything. The President's only direct authority is to conduct foreig=
n policy and as commander-in-chief of wars declared by Congress. A Prime M=
inister is, on the other hand, a true "King", because obedience to party au=
thority is the only way for anyone to stay in power in a Parliamentary demo=
cracy. If the Party in power loses a no-confidence vote in Parliament, th=
ey have to have an election. In Congress, party loyalty is whimsically en=
forced, at best. =20
Actually no - in a parliamentary democracy losing a no-confidence
motion does not automatically mean an election if another coalition of
parties presents itself to the "Crown" (Betty Windsor in the UK,
governor generals or lieutenant governors elsewhere in "Westminster
democracies") and is credibly believed to be able to win
non-confidence votes.

We had specifically this situation in British Columbia in July where
the Liberals had been reduced in the May election from majority to 43
seats (one short of a majority) and the two opposition parties (with
41 and 3 seats respectively) defeated the governing party on a
non-confidence motion.

Subsequent to the non-confidence motion that defeated the government
the Liberal leader resigned (and her riding is soon to have a
by-election) and the former (Liberal party) speaker was persuaded to
stay on as speaker leading to speculation as to whether he had changed
parties or not. (His party evicted him from their caucus though he
retains party membership after his "treason")
Rick Pikul/Chakat Firepaw
2017-09-28 02:24:40 UTC
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Actually no - in a parliamentary democracy losing a no-confidence motion
does not automatically mean an election if another coalition of parties
presents itself to the "Crown" (Betty Windsor in the UK, governor
generals or lieutenant governors elsewhere in "Westminster democracies")
and is credibly believed to be able to win non-confidence votes.
Don't forget the King-Byng Affair, where Governor General Byng didn't
simply allow such a switch: He overrode Prime Minister King's request to
dissolve Parliament before the Liberals could be defeated in a vote of
non-confidence.

Arthur Meighen's Tory government lasted just short of three months,
falling over its attempt to evade the need to hold ministerial by-
elections for MPs appointed to cabinet. King would go on to win the
resulting general election, falling just shy of a majority and making up
the shortfall with Liberal-leaning Progressives.
The Horny Goat
2017-09-28 14:59:42 UTC
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On Thu, 28 Sep 2017 02:24:40 -0000 (UTC), Rick Pikul/Chakat Firepaw
Post by Rick Pikul/Chakat Firepaw
Actually no - in a parliamentary democracy losing a no-confidence motion
does not automatically mean an election if another coalition of parties
presents itself to the "Crown" (Betty Windsor in the UK, governor
generals or lieutenant governors elsewhere in "Westminster democracies")
and is credibly believed to be able to win non-confidence votes.
Don't forget the King-Byng Affair, where Governor General Byng didn't
simply allow such a switch: He overrode Prime Minister King's request to
dissolve Parliament before the Liberals could be defeated in a vote of
non-confidence.
Arthur Meighen's Tory government lasted just short of three months,
falling over its attempt to evade the need to hold ministerial by-
elections for MPs appointed to cabinet. King would go on to win the
resulting general election, falling just shy of a majority and making up
the shortfall with Liberal-leaning Progressives.
Essentially the only difference between King-Byng and British Columbia
2017 was 91 years and the by-election requirement for new cabinet
ministers.

[That now defunct rule plays a big role in one of the Bartholomew
Bandy books (highly recommended) where our hero gets elected to the
Canadian House of Commons much to the chagrin of Mackenzie King who in
order to get him out of the Commons appoints him to the cabinet then
campaigns against him in the resulting by-election - which is unusual
given both are Liberals. (The rule did NOT require returning cabinet
ministers after a general election to face a by-election - only first
time appointees). For those unfamiliar with Bandy he's somewhat of a
Sir Harry Flashman type character with strong flavors of the Good
Soldier Schweijk]
jerry kraus
2017-09-28 13:11:41 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
On Wed, 27 Sep 2017 11:29:07 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by The Horny Goat
No, Don. Congressional Paralysis makes it impossible for the President to=
do anything. The President's only direct authority is to conduct foreig=
n policy and as commander-in-chief of wars declared by Congress. A Prime M=
inister is, on the other hand, a true "King", because obedience to party au=
thority is the only way for anyone to stay in power in a Parliamentary demo=
cracy. If the Party in power loses a no-confidence vote in Parliament, th=
ey have to have an election. In Congress, party loyalty is whimsically en=
forced, at best. =20
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by The Horny Goat
Actually no - in a parliamentary democracy losing a no-confidence
motion does not automatically mean an election if another coalition of
parties presents itself to the "Crown" (Betty Windsor in the UK,
governor generals or lieutenant governors elsewhere in "Westminster
democracies") and is credibly believed to be able to win
non-confidence votes.
We had specifically this situation in British Columbia in July where
the Liberals had been reduced in the May election from majority to 43
seats (one short of a majority) and the two opposition parties (with
41 and 3 seats respectively) defeated the governing party on a
non-confidence motion.
Subsequent to the non-confidence motion that defeated the government
the Liberal leader resigned (and her riding is soon to have a
by-election) and the former (Liberal party) speaker was persuaded to
stay on as speaker leading to speculation as to whether he had changed
parties or not. (His party evicted him from their caucus though he
retains party membership after his "treason")
Nevertheless, my point stands, that the Prime Minister has vastly more power than the U.S. President except in wartime, because all Party members lose power either through new elections or through transference of government authority to another Party, if they fail to consistently vote according to the will of the Prime Minister. In the U.S. Congress, Senators and Assemblymen vote the will of their state and district electorates in order to stay in power, they are comparatively indifferent to the will either of the Majority/Minority leaders, or of the President. Hence the power of the President resides in his ability to persuade members of Congress that it is in their interest to vote the way he wants them to vote. Trump has virtually no power to do this, at all. Hence, he is totally impotent, as President. In addition, of course, his complete ignorance of law, international and military affairs, make him a total joke as commander-in-chief. He is simply ignored by the State department, the military and the Supreme Court, even by his own appointees!
The Horny Goat
2017-09-28 15:05:49 UTC
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On Thu, 28 Sep 2017 06:11:41 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
Nevertheless, my point stands, that the Prime Minister has vastly more powe=
r than the U.S. President except in wartime, because all Party members lose=
power either through new elections or through transference of government a=
uthority to another Party, if they fail to consistently vote according to t=
he will of the Prime Minister. In the U.S. Congress, Senators and Assembl=
ymen vote the will of their state and district electorates in order to stay=
in power, they are comparatively indifferent to the will either of the Maj=
ority/Minority leaders, or of the President. Hence the power of the Presi=
dent resides in his ability to persuade members of Congress that it is in t=
heir interest to vote the way he wants them to vote. Trump has virtually =
no power to do this, at all. Hence, he is totally impotent, as President.=
In addition, of course, his complete ignorance of law, international and=
military affairs, make him a total joke as commander-in-chief. He is sim=
ply ignored by the State department, the military and the Supreme Court, ev=
en by his own appointees!
I would argue a Canadian prime minister is on paper even more powerful
than a British prime minister since in the UK a PM can be replaced any
time by his/her (the 'her' is important since this is how Thatcher
fell) caucus (1). In Canada a PM can only be overturned as party
leader by their party rank and file usually a two stage process in two
conventions normally being "Do you wish to hold a leadership
convention?" and "Who do you want the new leader to be?". The last
Canadian PM/Party Leader to fall this way was Joe Clark who despite
getting 69% on his party's confidence vote decided that was not
enough, called a leadership convention and was roundly thumped by
Brian Mulroney.

(1) Strictly speaking Thatcher DIDN'T go down that way but the caucus
vote was split 3 ways with no candidate receiving 51% of the vote and
Thatcher removed her name from the second ballot when told there was
no way she was going to get 51% on the second ballot
jerry kraus
2017-09-28 18:46:30 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
On Thu, 28 Sep 2017 06:11:41 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
Nevertheless, my point stands, that the Prime Minister has vastly more powe=
r than the U.S. President except in wartime, because all Party members lose=
power either through new elections or through transference of government a=
uthority to another Party, if they fail to consistently vote according to t=
he will of the Prime Minister. In the U.S. Congress, Senators and Assembl=
ymen vote the will of their state and district electorates in order to stay=
in power, they are comparatively indifferent to the will either of the Maj=
ority/Minority leaders, or of the President. Hence the power of the Presi=
dent resides in his ability to persuade members of Congress that it is in t=
heir interest to vote the way he wants them to vote. Trump has virtually =
no power to do this, at all. Hence, he is totally impotent, as President.=
In addition, of course, his complete ignorance of law, international and=
military affairs, make him a total joke as commander-in-chief. He is sim=
ply ignored by the State department, the military and the Supreme Court, ev=
en by his own appointees!
I would argue a Canadian prime minister is on paper even more powerful
than a British prime minister since in the UK a PM can be replaced any
time by his/her (the 'her' is important since this is how Thatcher
fell) caucus (1). In Canada a PM can only be overturned as party
leader by their party rank and file usually a two stage process in two
conventions normally being "Do you wish to hold a leadership
convention?" and "Who do you want the new leader to be?". The last
Canadian PM/Party Leader to fall this way was Joe Clark who despite
getting 69% on his party's confidence vote decided that was not
enough, called a leadership convention and was roundly thumped by
Brian Mulroney.
(1) Strictly speaking Thatcher DIDN'T go down that way but the caucus
vote was split 3 ways with no candidate receiving 51% of the vote and
Thatcher removed her name from the second ballot when told there was
no way she was going to get 51% on the second ballot
That's perfectly possible. What interests me is my hypothesis that because of Trump's inability/unwillingness to function as President, the U.S. is currently functioning as a Parliamentary Democracy, with the leader of the Senate -- the senior legislative body -- functioning effectively as Prime Minister. Now, with Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the majority in the Senate, this becomes a moot point, since the Republicans don't believe in government, and Mitch McConnell doesn't believe in passing legislation at all, and has spent his entire career as a professional obstructionist. However, I believe power abhors a vacuum, and the obvious power vacuum in the U.S. government will propel the electorate to elect Democrats next year, to fill it. So, will Chuck Schumer have absolute power in the U.S. as Democratic Senate majority leader, come November 2018?
Or, will the Democrats eventually acquire a 2/3 majority in the Senate, if Trump continues as President? This would give them the power to impeach the President and any and all Federal Judges in the U.S., at will. Also, they could change the constitution fairly easily.
Don Phillipson
2017-09-27 13:31:24 UTC
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Post by jerry kraus
Australia is a federation of independent states, just like the U.S., Don,
but it is also
a Parliamentary Democracy. I'm really just suggesting that the U.S.
government
was set up along lines similar to Australia.
No: essential differences are:
1. The American states declared their independence from the British
crown unilaterally before acting to make a federal union.
2. Chronology: we may not say the USA in 1789 was "set up along
lines similar to" Australia 1889-1900.
3. Concrete differences: the US Constitution included unique doctrines
such as the 3-part separation of powers, while Australia was deliberately
different from the Canadian model (1867) e.g. providing that senators be
elected, not appointed by the government.

These differences might have appeared minor in 1900 but were
consciously selected and in later decades made a material difference.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
Rick Pikul/Chakat Firepaw
2017-09-28 02:27:27 UTC
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2. Chronology: we may not say the USA in 1789 was "set up along lines
similar to" Australia 1889-1900.
I think the suggestion was that the US could have set up a similar
government, not that the US would have copied what Australia ended up
doing.

Jerry shoots himself in the foot enough that you don't need to argue
against him in bad faith.
--
Chakat Firepaw - Inventor and Scientist (mad)
The Horny Goat
2017-09-28 15:00:42 UTC
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On Thu, 28 Sep 2017 02:27:27 -0000 (UTC), Rick Pikul/Chakat Firepaw
Post by Rick Pikul/Chakat Firepaw
2. Chronology: we may not say the USA in 1789 was "set up along lines
similar to" Australia 1889-1900.
I think the suggestion was that the US could have set up a similar
government, not that the US would have copied what Australia ended up
doing.
Jerry shoots himself in the foot enough that you don't need to argue
against him in bad faith.
Who's arguing in bad faith? I thought it was an egregious historical
blunder of the kind we've seen multiple times before.
Insane Ranter
2017-09-27 02:55:43 UTC
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Post by jerry kraus
Let's suppose, just hypothetically, that the U.S. was a Parliamentary Democracy, like Israel, with no real executive authority outside of Parliament, and the President having an essentially symbolic role and ceremonial role. So, the leaders of the legislature would effectively control all aspects of the country, and, the President would merely serve a public relations function, with no direct authority over the military, domestic or foreign policy. He could express quite forceful opinions, and try to influence policy and events, but, wouldn't really control anything at all. What would that be like, exactly? Any thoughts, at all? We can use ASB's or anything you like to arrive at this state of affairs, of course.
Do the Articles of Confederation meet your requirements?
David Tenner
2017-09-28 03:04:31 UTC
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Post by Insane Ranter
Do the Articles of Confederation meet your requirements?
(1) See
http://groups.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/a61c2b0471c098b9 where
I discussed the argument of John Kaminski, longtime director of the
Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution project,that if
the controversy between Congress and New York on the impost could have been
resolved, there would have been no Constitutional Convention. I quoted
Calvin H. Johnson: "Kaminski believes that confederation form of government
would have been better for 1787 America than was the strong national
government the Constitution ordained. He believes that Congress would have
evolved into a Parliamentary form of government with John Jay [Secretary of
Foreign Affairs] as prime minister.146 The Founders would have avoided an
imperial President, modeled on the King."

I also quoted Johnson's point that "In discussion of Kaminiski's thesis at
the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, Philadelpia, July
25, 2005, Professor Pauline Maier of MIT took issue with the argument that
the Congress under the Articles would have evolved into a parliamentary-prime
minister system, in part because not even England had evolved into a
parliamentary-prime minister system at the time.'

As I noted, "Sir Lewis Namier makes this point in a defense of George III:
'in the eighteenth century the King had to intervene in politics and was
bound to exercise his political influence, for the party system, which is
the basis of Parliamentary government, did not exist. Of the House of
Commons itself probably less than half thought and acted in party terms...'
*Personalities and Powers: Selected Essays,* p. 43. So the question is
whether you would eventually get national parties--at least in the form of
loose coalitions of state parties--in the Confederation."

Rich Rostrom objected that "A parliamentary government would have to
be at least as unitary as the OTL Constitutional regime. The Congress of
the Confederation voted by states, not members." My reply was "By
itself, that would not necessarily preclude the eventual development of a
party system and parliamentary government. One party could get majorities
of the members in most states, and thus dictate who would become 'prime
minister.'"

(2) It has also been argued that if Andrew Johnson had been convicted in the
Senate, the US could have gotten a de facto parliamentary system. To quote
an old post of mine:

"One possible consequence of a Johnson conviction was stated by a friend
of J.A. Garfield (quoted in W.R. Brock, _An American Crisis: Congress
and Reconstruction 1865-1867_, Harper Torchbooks edition, p. 260): "The
next great question to be decided in our history is this--is the
National Legislature to be as omnipotent in American politics as the
English is in English politics?...May we not anticipate a time when the
President will no more think of vetoing a bill passed by Congress than
the British Crown thinks of doing the same thing?"

"Also note the remarks of Wisconsin Senator Timothy Howe on the Tenure of
Office Act: when a Democratic Senator referred to the President's "own
cabinet" Howe specifically denied that it was such. It was, he said,
"the Cabinet of the people." He compared the American and British
systems and said of cabinet members that "it is no more necessary that
they should be on confidential terms with the president than that they
should be on confidential terms with the representatives of the people."
(Brock, p. 259)

"We should not rule out the possibility that the U.S. could have moved
toward a parliamentary system without any formal change in the
Constituion. After all, much of the diminution of the power of the
British crown has not been the result of formal changes in the law."

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/alt.history.what-if/V3cuvXTs47E/EeIO9od8L1QJ

I am less inclined today than when I wrote this to think that a Johnson
conviction woud result in parliamentary or even quasi-parliamentrary
government for the US. It is more likely that the Republicans would go back
to more traditional ideas of presidential power once Grant was in the White
House.
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Pete Barrett
2017-09-29 08:29:04 UTC
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Post by David Tenner
"We should not rule out the possibility that the U.S. could have moved
toward a parliamentary system without any formal change in the
Constituion. After all, much of the diminution of the power of the
British crown has not been the result of formal changes in the law."
One rather major difference, which Jerry is overlooking, is that in the
UK, the Prime Minister appoints departmental ministers without having to
get Parliament's approval (and those ministers have to be members of one
or other houses of the legislature); while in the US, that is the
prerogative of the President (and the departmental ministers are not
members of the legislature).

It's possible to imagine the President appointing a PM with Senate
approval, and that PM then appointing departmental ministers. But could
the US have transitioned to such a system without a constitutional
amendment?
--
Pete BARRETT
jerry kraus
2017-09-29 13:16:49 UTC
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Post by Pete Barrett
Post by David Tenner
"We should not rule out the possibility that the U.S. could have moved
toward a parliamentary system without any formal change in the
Constituion. After all, much of the diminution of the power of the
British crown has not been the result of formal changes in the law."
One rather major difference, which Jerry is overlooking, is that in the
UK, the Prime Minister appoints departmental ministers without having to
get Parliament's approval (and those ministers have to be members of one
or other houses of the legislature); while in the US, that is the
prerogative of the President (and the departmental ministers are not
members of the legislature).
It's possible to imagine the President appointing a PM with Senate
approval, and that PM then appointing departmental ministers. But could
the US have transitioned to such a system without a constitutional
amendment?
--
Pete BARRETT
First of all, Pete, in the UK, the Prime Minister gets from his caucus pretty much what he wants from his caucus, or they have to get a new Prime Minister. So, I'd say the reason the Parliament isn't required to approve departmental ministers is that the Prime Minister's authority over Parliament is so absolute, at least in the case of a majority government, that the entire process would be seen as being rather redundant.

As for the President appointing a PM in the U.S. Senate, in a sense that is what the Queen does in the UK, for Parliament. In practice, now, no, but technically she still has to "approve" of the choice of Prime Minister, and in the past English Kings did choose their "first ministers", didn't they? Given the clear separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution -- again, this balance of competing powers is very fundamental to the U.S. conception of limited, highly constrained government power -- it's not clear how the President could actually be empowered to appoint a Prime Minister, without fundamental Constitutional change. On the other hand, we could have an arrangement similar to that in the modern day UK, where the President simply, by convention, agrees to accept the elected Majority Leader of the Senate as U.S. Prime Minister.
The Horny Goat
2017-09-29 15:48:44 UTC
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On Fri, 29 Sep 2017 06:16:49 -0700 (PDT), jerry kraus
As for the President appointing a PM in the U.S. Senate, in a sense that is=
what the Queen does in the UK, for Parliament. In practice, now, no, but =
technically she still has to "approve" of the choice of Prime Minister, and=
in the past English Kings did choose their "first ministers", didn't they?=
Given the clear separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution -- again, t=
his balance of competing powers is very fundamental to the U.S. conception =
of limited, highly constrained government power -- it's not clear how the P=
resident could actually be empowered to appoint a Prime Minister, without f=
undamental Constitutional change. On the other hand, we could have an arr=
angement similar to that in the modern day UK, where the President simply, =
by convention, agrees to accept the elected Majority Leader of the Senate a=
s U.S. Prime Minister.
In a multi-party system where no party gets a majority (there have
been several such cases cited in the last couple of days) the Crown
(or local representative) does play a role in judging whether he/she
believes the coalition actually does have the votes to make it stick.

He/she COULD be wrong - and that will be demonstrated on the first
non-confidence motion - but it's not automatic. Now the Crown isn't an
idiot so is responsive to the election returns.

As for the Crown having a veto the last monarch that actually refused
to sign a bill was Queen Anne - it was a militia bill that she
believed would encourage Scottish separatism. (At least that's what
the tour guide in the British House of Commons last year told us)

Given it was Queen Anne it obviously wasn't recently!
Pete Barrett
2017-09-30 16:16:33 UTC
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Post by jerry kraus
First of all, Pete, in the UK, the Prime Minister gets from his caucus
pretty much what he wants from his caucus, or they have to get a new
Prime Minister. So, I'd say the reason the Parliament isn't required
to approve departmental ministers is that the Prime Minister's authority
over Parliament is so absolute, at least in the case of a majority
government, that the entire process would be seen as being rather
redundant.
Not really. The convention is that the PM is the leader of the largest
party in the House of Commons (that has been the tradition for over 100
years; the few exceptions have been some transitional cases where a PM
resigns as party leader, but remains PM until a new leader of the party
is chosen; one case where LlG tried to fight an election as the leader of
a wartime coalition after the war had ended; and one case where Edward
Heath tried to remain as PM after losing an election by coming to an
arrangement with the Liberals). The PM then appoints departmental
ministers (who must all be members of one House of Parliament or the
other) using the Royal Prerogative.

(If you're interested, until the mid-eighteenth century, the King or
Queen frequently appointed departmental ministers independently, leading
to cases where ministers couldn't get on with each other, and sometimes
couldn't get on with the PM. Over the years, it became obvious that it
led to fewer problems to have these prerogative powers delegated to the
PM. The current system was substantially in place by 1840, but with the
much looser party discipline in the 19th century, PMs like Aberdeen and
Palmerston, although they could command a majority in the Commons, were
not always leaders of a clearly defined _party_ which had such a
majority; by the time Disraeli died, they nearly always were.)
Post by jerry kraus
As for the President appointing a PM in the U.S. Senate, in a sense that
is what the Queen does in the UK, for Parliament. In practice, now, no,
but technically she still has to "approve" of the choice of Prime
Minister, and in the past English Kings did choose their "first
ministers", didn't they? Given the clear separation of powers in the
U.S.
Constitution -- again, this balance of competing powers is very
fundamental to the U.S. conception of limited, highly constrained
government power -- it's not clear how the President could actually be
empowered to appoint a Prime Minister, without fundamental
Constitutional change. On the other hand, we could have an arrangement
similar to that in the modern day UK, where the President simply, by
convention, agrees to accept the elected Majority Leader of the Senate
as U.S. Prime Minister.
That's the sort of thing I was thinking of. The Majority Leader could
then put forward names for the departmental ministers, which the
President by convention accepts; I could see a system like that
developing. BUT... even if the Senate Majority Leader was by convention
invited to the President's cabinet meetings, and could function there as
a Prime Minister, could the departmental ministers be members of the
Senate or House of Representatives without a constitutional amendment?
That, I think, is what might prevent such a system from simply developing
as a set of conventions.
--
Pete BARRETT
Rich Rostrom
2017-10-01 01:36:05 UTC
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Post by Pete Barrett
Not really. The convention is that the PM is the leader of the largest
party in the House of Commons (that has been the tradition for over 100
years; the few exceptions have been some transitional cases where a PM
resigns as party leader, but remains PM until a new leader of the party
is chosen; one case where LlG tried to fight an election as the leader of
a wartime coalition after the war had ended; and one case where Edward
Heath tried to remain as PM after losing an election by coming to an
arrangement with the Liberals).
There was also Ramsay Macdonald's National Government of 1931-1935.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
Pete Barrett
2017-10-01 14:44:40 UTC
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Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Pete Barrett
Not really. The convention is that the PM is the leader of the largest
party in the House of Commons (that has been the tradition for over 100
years; the few exceptions have been some transitional cases where a PM
resigns as party leader, but remains PM until a new leader of the party
is chosen; one case where LlG tried to fight an election as the leader
of a wartime coalition after the war had ended; and one case where
Edward Heath tried to remain as PM after losing an election by coming
to an arrangement with the Liberals).
There was also Ramsay Macdonald's National Government of 1931-1935.
Yes, I was forgetting that. But *except* for the National Government,
*and* LlG, *and* Edward Heath, *and* the few transitional cases...the PM
is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons.
--
Pete BARRETT
Dimensional Traveler
2017-10-01 17:03:45 UTC
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Post by Pete Barrett
Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Pete Barrett
Not really. The convention is that the PM is the leader of the largest
party in the House of Commons (that has been the tradition for over 100
years; the few exceptions have been some transitional cases where a PM
resigns as party leader, but remains PM until a new leader of the party
is chosen; one case where LlG tried to fight an election as the leader
of a wartime coalition after the war had ended; and one case where
Edward Heath tried to remain as PM after losing an election by coming
to an arrangement with the Liberals).
There was also Ramsay Macdonald's National Government of 1931-1935.
Yes, I was forgetting that. But *except* for the National Government,
*and* LlG, *and* Edward Heath, *and* the few transitional cases...the PM
is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons.
Except when he is not. :)
--
Inquiring minds want to know while minds with a self-preservation
instinct are running screaming.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-01 23:49:40 UTC
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On Sun, 1 Oct 2017 10:03:45 -0700, Dimensional Traveler
Post by Dimensional Traveler
Post by Pete Barrett
Yes, I was forgetting that. But *except* for the National Government,
*and* LlG, *and* Edward Heath, *and* the few transitional cases...the PM
is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons.
Except when he is not. :)
And of course in the cases of Mrs Thatcher and Mrs May when 'he' is a
'she'

Is there another major power besides the UK that have had TWO women as
their leader? Several have had one but two?
Rich Rostrom
2017-10-02 16:54:28 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
Is there another major power besides the UK that
have had TWO women as their leader? Several have had
one but two?
As a political leader, in the modern era, no.

OTOH, countries that have had more than one
non-figurehead queen/empress regnant would
include Russia, England (which has also had
two female PMs), Castile/Spain (Ysabella of
Castile, and Isabella II in the 1800s).
China had a female emperor (she used a male
reign name) during the Han Dynasty, and the
Dowager Ci Xi was de facto if not de jure
ruler in the 1800s.

As to modern political rulers, the most
important pair would be Sheikh Hasina Wazed
and Khaleda Zia, who between them have served
as Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 1996.

Another double would be Isabel Peron and
Christine Kirchner of Argentina.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
The Horny Goat
2017-10-02 21:31:28 UTC
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On Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:54:28 -0500, Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
As to modern political rulers, the most
important pair would be Sheikh Hasina Wazed
and Khaleda Zia, who between them have served
as Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 1996.
Another double would be Isabel Peron and
Christine Kirchner of Argentina.
While I don't consider either country a 'great power' the way I would
Britain, France or Germany at least that's two countries.

Obviously I wasn't thinking hereditary rulers else Britain itself
would count with a second queen long before the 20th century.
(Depending on whether you count the 12th century Matilda or any of the
regional queens pre-1066 who didn't control all of England)

Some countries it is difficult to imagine with a female leader - China
and Russia/USSR come to mind. One would have said Germany itself
pre-Merkel. (Certainly can you construct a plausible WI for Germany
pre-1945?) Le Pen is to my knowledge the only woman who has come close
to the top in France though constructing a scenario where she wins the
past election gets us into the BOP. Certainly from the vantage point
of 2012-13 one would say she was more likely to win than Trump.

And while I don't want to get into BOP territory I do think Clinton
did more to bury herself than Trump did. Her 'deplorable' speech
probably cost her a minimum of 1/2 million votes in some key states
she lost narrowly. (Again - I really don't want to get into US issues
from 2016)

In short both the United States and France could have had female
rulers though I do not think that for either of them their gender was
the deciding inluence on their defeat at the polls any more than
Canada's Kim Campbell was defeated for her gender.
jerry kraus
2017-10-03 13:22:34 UTC
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Post by The Horny Goat
On Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:54:28 -0500, Rich Rostrom
Post by Rich Rostrom
As to modern political rulers, the most
important pair would be Sheikh Hasina Wazed
and Khaleda Zia, who between them have served
as Prime Minister of Bangladesh since 1996.
Another double would be Isabel Peron and
Christine Kirchner of Argentina.
While I don't consider either country a 'great power' the way I would
Britain, France or Germany at least that's two countries.
Obviously I wasn't thinking hereditary rulers else Britain itself
would count with a second queen long before the 20th century.
(Depending on whether you count the 12th century Matilda or any of the
regional queens pre-1066 who didn't control all of England)
Some countries it is difficult to imagine with a female leader - China
and Russia/USSR come to mind. One would have said Germany itself
pre-Merkel. (Certainly can you construct a plausible WI for Germany
pre-1945?) Le Pen is to my knowledge the only woman who has come close
to the top in France though constructing a scenario where she wins the
past election gets us into the BOP. Certainly from the vantage point
of 2012-13 one would say she was more likely to win than Trump.
And while I don't want to get into BOP territory I do think Clinton
did more to bury herself than Trump did. Her 'deplorable' speech
probably cost her a minimum of 1/2 million votes in some key states
she lost narrowly. (Again - I really don't want to get into US issues
from 2016)
In short both the United States and France could have had female
rulers though I do not think that for either of them their gender was
the deciding inluence on their defeat at the polls any more than
Canada's Kim Campbell was defeated for her gender.
Women are excellent managers and good negotiators, but, frequently, not very good fighters. So, countries with strong military traditions often steer clear of women leaders, at least in general. Also, women often don't perform particularly well in very direct confrontations with strong, charismatic men. And women, being the highly materialistic creatures that we all know them to be, are even more vulnerable to corruption charges than men are, as the problems of several former female political leaders currently illustrate.
Rich Rostrom
2017-10-04 23:56:06 UTC
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Obviously I wasn't thinking hereditary rulers...
Cixi didn't inherit her position; she was Dowager
Empress by marriage, but then achieved supreme
political power by dint of ferocious intrigue.

There was also Wu Zetian, who was Empress _Regnant_
in 690-705; she had been an Imperial concubine, who
outmaneuvered the barren Empress and the senior
concubine who was mother of the crown prince to
place her own son on the throne. Later she replaced
that son with another, and then declared _herself_
Emperor; all this by intrigue, as she was not herself
of Imperial blood. (BTW, her reputation is that of a
ruthless, murderous intriguer and bloody-handed
autocrat who was also a _very_ capable ruler, rooting
out corruption and appointing able men to office.)
....Le Pen is to my knowledge the only woman who has come close
to the top in France...
You've forgotten Ségolène Royal, the socialist
candidate in 2007. Like Le Pen, she went to the
second round, and did far better than Le Pen,
with 47%.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
jerry kraus
2017-10-02 13:27:31 UTC
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Post by Pete Barrett
Post by jerry kraus
First of all, Pete, in the UK, the Prime Minister gets from his caucus
pretty much what he wants from his caucus, or they have to get a new
Prime Minister. So, I'd say the reason the Parliament isn't required
to approve departmental ministers is that the Prime Minister's authority
over Parliament is so absolute, at least in the case of a majority
government, that the entire process would be seen as being rather
redundant.
Not really. The convention is that the PM is the leader of the largest
party in the House of Commons (that has been the tradition for over 100
years; the few exceptions have been some transitional cases where a PM
resigns as party leader, but remains PM until a new leader of the party
is chosen; one case where LlG tried to fight an election as the leader of
a wartime coalition after the war had ended; and one case where Edward
Heath tried to remain as PM after losing an election by coming to an
arrangement with the Liberals). The PM then appoints departmental
ministers (who must all be members of one House of Parliament or the
other) using the Royal Prerogative.
(If you're interested, until the mid-eighteenth century, the King or
Queen frequently appointed departmental ministers independently, leading
to cases where ministers couldn't get on with each other, and sometimes
couldn't get on with the PM. Over the years, it became obvious that it
led to fewer problems to have these prerogative powers delegated to the
PM. The current system was substantially in place by 1840, but with the
much looser party discipline in the 19th century, PMs like Aberdeen and
Palmerston, although they could command a majority in the Commons, were
not always leaders of a clearly defined _party_ which had such a
majority; by the time Disraeli died, they nearly always were.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Post by Pete Barrett
Post by jerry kraus
As for the President appointing a PM in the U.S. Senate, in a sense that
is what the Queen does in the UK, for Parliament. In practice, now, no,
but technically she still has to "approve" of the choice of Prime
Minister, and in the past English Kings did choose their "first
ministers", didn't they? Given the clear separation of powers in the
U.S.
Constitution -- again, this balance of competing powers is very
fundamental to the U.S. conception of limited, highly constrained
government power -- it's not clear how the President could actually be
empowered to appoint a Prime Minister, without fundamental
Constitutional change. On the other hand, we could have an arrangement
similar to that in the modern day UK, where the President simply, by
convention, agrees to accept the elected Majority Leader of the Senate
as U.S. Prime Minister.
That's the sort of thing I was thinking of. The Majority Leader could
then put forward names for the departmental ministers, which the
President by convention accepts; I could see a system like that
developing. BUT... even if the Senate Majority Leader was by convention
invited to the President's cabinet meetings, and could function there as
a Prime Minister, could the departmental ministers be members of the
Senate or House of Representatives without a constitutional amendment?
That, I think, is what might prevent such a system from simply developing
as a set of conventions.
True, in the U.S. system of balance of powers, it's not possible for the Presidential Cabinet members to be serving members of the legislature. On the other hand, they can be drawn from the legislature, they have to have the approval of the legislature, and the President could, potentially be in such a vulnerable position, legally, that he would be compelled to appoint or dismiss cabinet members at the will of the legislature. Indeed, given Trump's refusal to divest himself and his family of their multi-billion dollar business empire -- which puts him and his family in a chronic position of treason, conflict of interest, extortion, fraud and theft from the public purse -- this may be exactly the situation currently. If and when the Democrats take back Congress -- probably next year -- they will not treat an opposite party President with kid gloves. If Trump does not do precisely what a Democratically controlled legislature commands, they can and will lock up his children one by one, and finish off with Trump himself. So, effectively, the Trump cabinet appointees will be fully under the control of Congress, if not actually members of Congress.
Post by Pete Barrett
--
Pete BARRETT
Don Phillipson
2017-09-30 18:51:28 UTC
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. . . in the UK . . . the reason the Parliament isn't required to approve
departmental
ministers is that the Prime Minister's authority over Parliament is so
absolute, at
least in the case of a majority government, that the entire process would
be seen
as being rather redundant.
The actual reasons Parliament "isn't required to approve departmental
ministers" are: (1) These are ministers of the Crown, not Parliament,
i.e. exercise the Crown's authority over its servants and functions.
(2) Parliament directly controls the departments' budgets. This is
the way the bureaucracy is held accountable to Parliament: in
extremis, Parliament could deny funding (or reduce a minister's
salary.) This is how Responsible Government is supposed to work.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
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