Joe thinks America needs electoral reform. I’ve long thought that there was nothing wrong with American politics that a quick switch to a Westminster-style form of government couldn’t fix. Forget about the usual complaints about campaign finance or gerrymandering. I’m talking the big-picture stuff. For example:
1.The dynastic trend that has given us (or will have given us) a Clinton or a Bush for most of the past thirty years is, to a large extent, an artifact of the term limits on presidents. A move to a confidence-based system would allow popular presidents to burn themselves and their supporters out with a tired third term, while reducing the incentive for former presidents to build an independent power base and install an heir (or spouse) in his or her place.
2. The Supreme Court problem. Scalia died four months ago, and the GOP is straightforwardly refusing to to confirm Mark Garland. Their position, essentially, is that a president with almost a full year to go in his or her term is a lame duck. Again, this is a problem with both term limits and the absence of responsible government.
3. Sanders and Trump, but especially Trump. One of the most fascinating aspects of the rise of Trump has been this assumption that the Republican apparatus would find a way to stop Trump. As it turns out, there is no Republican Party apparatus. From an amazing piece about the crisis from the NYT:
Former Gov. Michael O. Leavitt of Utah, a top adviser to Mr. Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said the party was unable to come up with a united front to quash Mr. Trump’s campaign.
“There is no mechanism,” Mr. Leavitt said. “There is no smoke-filled room. If there is, I’ve never seen it, nor do I know anyone who has. This is going to play out in the way that it will.”
And later in the piece:
“There’s no single leader and no single institution that can bring a diverse group called the Republican Party together, behind a single candidate,” Mr. Malek said. “It just doesn’t exist.”
If this sounds familiar, it is: It’s pretty much where the Labour party in the UK has arrived, thanks to the near-complete disconnection of party leadership from the caucus. Why the UK would want to replicate a system that has helped turn American political parties in “host organisms” for outsider-demagogues is an absolute mystery to me. Why Justin Trudeau seems to want to do the same thing here in Canada is less mysterious, but also no less reckless.