America’s Parliamentary Disaster

America’s Parliamentary Disaster
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The U.S. Congress is quietly becoming a European-style parliament — and the transformation isn't for the good. Congress is fanning, not defusing, conflict. Although I have written about this before, the issue is worth revisiting, because its significance is underappreciated and it helps explain the brutal bitterness of today's politics. Witness the acrimonious debate over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch or the stalemated status of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

In a well-functioning parliamentary system, voters pick one party or several associated parties that can control the legislature and adopt the majority's political agenda. The key is parliamentary discipline. Legislators of the ruling party are committed by custom and self-interest to vote as a bloc. If they don't, the government may “fall,” resulting in a new election and the possible loss of seats.

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