The British House of Commons dissolved March 30 and the country entered five weeks of campaigning to determine a new government.
David Cameron’s five years as prime minister in the coalition government was over; it was time for voters to decide who governs next.
With the dissolution, May 7 was set as the day the people of Britain would go to the polls.
They did, and to the surprise of many, the Conservatives were not only returned to power, but significantly increased their margin in the House of Commons, thus negating the need to align with Liberal Democrats, who suffered calamitous losses, losing 49 of 58 previously held seats.
In the British political system, when you lose, you resign; thus the day after the election the leaders of Labour, Liberal Democrats and United Kingdom Independence Party, Ed Miliband, Nicholas Clegg and Nigel Farage, all quit.
Five weeks from Parliament’s termination to the formation of a new government — five weeks!
This came to mind as I was scanning recent postings on my Facebook page, many of which were focused on our own 2016 presidential campaign — with an election not five weeks away, but 74.
Because some people think I know politics, they will ask what I think will happen in 2016.
People ask about Hillary or Jeb, maybe Bernie Sanders or Rand Paul, perhaps Ted Cruz or Carly Fiorina. Or, fill in the name.
I will politely answer, I don’t know who the nominees will be or who ends up winning, and because it is so distant, 518 days distant, and so many things can and will happen, things beyond anyone’s ability to foresee, I have little interest in discussing things unknown until they’re known.
It’s true that in 2012 I was one of three people (that I know of) who correctly predicted the number of Electoral College votes President Obama would receive. The other two were a Stanford professor and a gentleman from The New York Times.
I didn’t make that prediction in the spring of 2011, but post-Labor Day 2012, feeling then, as now, it’s just too stupid to play that game, even while knowing a whole lot of journalists, columnists and consultants play it. To be fair, their livelihoods depend upon such speculations; mine doesn’t.
While refusing to be drawn in as to who wins Iowa or New Hampshire, I have no hesitancy in writing that America’s political system has evolved into idiocy (and if you need further proof, consider how those two relatively insignificant states have come to achieve such political importance).
We have deified the Constitution’s framers, forgetting that in creating our system of governance they institutionalized slavery, forbade women and non-property owners the vote, and in their desire to separate power established a system that’s the antithesis of parliamentary government.
The framers were visionaries, in part, but despite their genius they could not possibly have envisioned the dysfunctional state of American government today.
True, they suffered few illusions about human nature, and sought, through a tripartite system with executive, legislative, and judicial branches, a system that would balance competing interests and protect the rights of all.
But the framers’ grand design has crumbled into confusion and absurdity, and where many in the world beyond our shores once admired our democratic model, now they ridicule it – as ridicule it they should.
Of course, the blissfully ignorant among us will recoil at the idea the mighty United States of America has become the object of scorn and ridicule in the family of nations, but that’s the wrong reaction.
The correct reaction is to acknowledge how truly screwed up we are and then resolve, like all good patriots, to do something about our declining circumstances.
But if you are waiting for our establishment leaders to lead, forget it.
Now, that might happen if we were to go radical — as in Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio radical — but Hillary and Jeb, Wall Street and Washington, ain’t letting that happen.
But, just to strain the brain, let’s assume something like that occurred, that either Elizabeth or Bernie on the Democratic side, Ted or Mario on the Republican side, actually became the two major parties’ nominees, and one subsequently became the 45th president of the United States. Is there anyone who thinks such a radical choice by voters would also lead to voters choosing a radical Congress, both house under the control of one party?
If you think that is in any way possible, then, as the saying goes, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you should buy.
But, of course, that’s not happening, and whoever is elected president in 2016 will face many of the same issues Obama faces, but because the next president isn’t going to be black, the volatility of our current circumstances, fueled by white racism, may appear to lessen. Consensus government will be no closer than now, however, and what’s left of our eroding greatness will further slip away.
Which brings me back to Great Britain.
I never, ever, thought the parliamentary system of governance superior to ours. I no longer think that.
There is a great deal to be said about a system of government where the party elected to lead by its parliamentary majority actually has the power to lead, and the decisions government makes become the force of law and policy.
Yes, there’s an opposition party, but that party’s “power” is limited to Prime Minister Question Time in the Commons, when the leader of the party opposite is given his or her 12 to 15 minutes to challenge the prime minister. When that weekly occurrence is over, so, too, is it over for the opposition.
David Cameron as prime minister may govern as he and his cabinet and party choose, and they may govern absent the ability of Labour, Liberal Democrats or Scottish Nationalists to stop their policies and programs.
Until we in the USA put in place a government in Washington, at the White House and on Capitol Hill, with similar unfettered powers to govern, the chaos and idiocy of what now passes for “government’ will continue, and the ridicule and scorn with which some now hold our country, will only increase — with due cause.