America's Parliamentary Mindset

Former Vice President Joe Biden is winning Democratic primaries to a great extent on a message of uniting a politically fractured country and restoring normality back to the governmental system. Those aspirations are, of course, fundamentally positive in this time of legislative inertia and public dissatisfaction. The greatest challenge to the achievability of these aims, however, is a now prevailing mindset about the nature of America’s system of government held by significant, entrenched elements within both the Republican and Democratic parties. It is a mindset that will be difficult to fully overcome, at least in the short-term, should the presidency change hands.

Put simply, a vast swath of the electorate, and a great many serving in the government itself, have come to misguidedly view America’s system through a parliamentary lens: they see political parties as more than the primary actors within the governmental structure; they see the parties as the government. Thus, too many people of all political stripes have come to perceive America’s constitutional structure as a set of mechanisms to control and utilize for one party’s political ends, rather than a set of institutions for the parties to operate within, and conflict with, each other.

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