Friday, June 10, 2016

Through a Parliamentary Lens

By no means every four years but every now and ten, I can’t help but to ponder what politics might be like in the United States if we had a parliamentary democracy. In such a system the de facto “executive” is the Prime Minister. Technically only parties compete, not individuals. The leader of the party with the majority of votes becomes Prime Minister—and if no majority is achieved by any party, a coalition government is formed from two or more parties; the leader of the largest piece becomes PM.

Curious that. The public does not directly vote for the Leader but the leader has real power. In the United States, the Leader is a major celebrity by definition but may have no genuine power to carry out his or her agenda—if House or Senate are in opposition hands.

Looked at through a Parliamentary Lens, we now have five parties contending for rule in the United States: The Democratic Party (DP) headed by Hilary Clinton, the Sanders Progressive Party (SPP) led by Bernie Sanders, the Great Donald Party (GDP) lead by Donald Trump, the Grand Old Party (GOP) led by Paul Ryan, and the Libertarian Party (LP) headed by Johnson Riding. There is also the Green Party, but (as best I can determine) it has no official leader to assume that ultimate title of Commander in Chief.

Now if, instead of electing Electors in November we were electing members of parliament (MPs), the likely outcome would be the following (in order of number of seats won):


None would have an absolute majority. If the SPP came in second, DP could easily form a Coalition Government with Bernie Sanders naming secretaries for Treasury, Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services and Hilary Clinton selecting the secretaries of the other major departments. If Donald’s GDP won second place, the Democrats would still rule by aligning with SPP. Not any year, of course, but certainly this year. This year the GOP under Ryan would find it almost impossible to bring about an effective coalition with Donald GDP. Donald doesn’t do coalitions.

This outcome would be neat because, for the next six years or so the DP-SPP coalition would have absolute power to legislate its program—and therefore try out its policies in the actual world. Things would then seem very strange indeed. We’d get genuine change instead of institutionalized paralysis which is out current fate.


  1. It's a great idea, your parliamentary dream, but as you say "Donald does not do coalitions"; he says he is a great deal-maker. I am not holding my breath to see what great deal he'll finally present us...

    1. While I wouldn't like to suggest that Trump is a good representative of any larger trends, his candidacy does serve to show how wrong it is to assume, as many, many Americans do, that knowing how to make money in the business world in any way translates to knowing how to govern. THEY ARE VERY DIFFERENT THINGS IN OUR SYSTEM. The failure of MI's current CEO as governor is another fine example of the same, sadly.

  2. I think this is a delightful exercise in imagining a different scenario and it highlights some of the pros of the parliamentary system. But, I can't help and wonder what some of the cons might be...

    The cons are, perhaps, more apparent in the actual parliamentary systems of Europe since they are made up of more and smaller parties and this can lead to a sort of paralysis of its own. But, superimposed on a more stable two party system like ours has been--with rare exception for a century now--may highlight the parliamentary systems potential benefits.

    In any case, this is a fun and interesting topic to think about, imagine how it could work... contemplate.

    1. As it now turns out there may be 3 nominees this time and contemplating who might build a coalition with whom could be fun to examine, while pondering each other's reasons; don't you think, Monique?