Americans should remind their elected representatives and senators that we do not have the parliamentary system in this country.
Under that system, which the Founding Fathers rejected, the executive branch is chosen from the majority party in the legislature or, if there is no majority, from a coalition of parties. The Founding Fathers were wise to reject this system, because for one thing it makes the majority party virtually a dictatorship.
Our system elects members of the House and the Senate independently. The president and vice president are elected independently of Congress. The legislative branch is entirely separate from the executive branch and from the judicial branch, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, in recent years the low-caliber people we’ve elected have tried to make it a parliamentary system in fact if not in form. Republicans are not elected to represent the Republican Party or a Republican president. They are elected to represent all the people in their district. Yet the Republicans in office today slavishly obey the president.
The same is true of Democrats. Both parties, however, have allowed their partisanship to trump their constitutional duty. Republicans support a Republican president no matter how wrong he is; Democrats support a Democratic president no matter how wrong he is.
The way to remedy this is for the people to take back their government by voting out of office all incumbents. I’ve advocated this for years, and others have, too. People won’t do it, though. They may cuss Congress, but they tend to think their particular representative is OK. Well, he or she might be, but the person still needs to be tossed out of office to make the point that the legislative branch is not the cheering section for the president.
I would like to see every single Republican in office dumped in 2008, and then in 2010, every single Democrat dumped. The American people are the only people in the world who have the power to effect a peaceful revolution. All 435 House members must stand for election every two years. Can you imagine the shock if all 435 were defeated? Every two years, one-third of the Senate has to stand for re-election, and the senators, too, could be dumped out of office.
Never let anyone blame the ills of government on the government. All of the problems of the government are the direct responsibility of the people who are supposed to judge those running for office and to reject those who don’t meet the people’s standards. In America, we do indeed get the government we deserve, because we get the government we tolerate.
You can’t tell me that in a nation of 300 million people, the 435 members of Congress and the 100 senators are the best we can do. That’s only 535 people out of 300 million. If that paltry number of office-seekers is the cream of our crop, then we have declined in quality to the point of no resurrection.
Part of the problem is that the best of our people no longer want to serve. As much as Congress has inflated its own salaries and perks, it’s still below what a reasonably bright and energetic lawyer or businessman can make. Then, too, there is the harassment that goes with being in public office.
Nevertheless, we wouldn’t exist if some of the best people in the past had not sacrificed to serve the public and the country, often at great personal expense. Think about it. The government belongs to you, not to the politicians.
Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.