What do you know of/about the US Constitution?

Code Blue

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Feb 2015
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If the US used our system, Trump could never have been elected; he would first have to be elected to a seat in parliament in his own right, and THEN be voted leader of his party
Never is the wrong word.

FWIW, almost no one elected as US President would have qualifed in the Aussie system. I believe #11 Polk was Speaker of the House on election day; and #36 LBJ had been a Senate Majority Leader, but not when he was elected President. I suspect Henry Clay might have been a party leader at least one of the five times he lost in Presidential elections.

The system you describe requires that only those who have steeped the longest in the waters of corruption can become the chief executive. I find little comfort in that.

I confess that I am just learning the Aussie politics from your post, a few internet searches you caused me to make, (and the occasional fact I pick from watching reruns of The Chase). So, you can correct me if this is wrong. You have a monarch, the monarch appoints the governor general, and the governor general can remove the prime minister, and remove the members of Parliament? And this actually happened? And you don't think the queen is running things?
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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... almost no one elected as US President would have qualifed in the Aussie system...

The system you describe requires that only those who have steeped the longest in the waters of corruption can become the chief executive. I find little comfort in that.
Yes, the route to power in the Westminster system is very different. The Westminster system rarely produces great leaders, but it also rarely produces bad ones. Without the war, Churchill would have never been PM. He was great in a crisis, but in the absence of a crisis the system didn't need or want him. For six or seven years prior to the war Churchill wasn't even in the cabinet. He was the epitome of a political outsider.

Some presidents may have been able to modify their careers so that they could take a different route and become a PM. Many presidents probably did lack the ability to succeed in a Westminster system. On the other hand, many good PMs probably never could have become American presidents. I will make no claim as to which system best utilizes and develops the available talent.

The risk of corruption is very real. On the other hand, the Westminster system ensures that the PM will have many years of experience before attaining the position. LBJ is probably the president who most closely resembles a PM in the sense that he worked his way up through the ranks of Congress so that once he reached the presidency he knew exactly what he had to do to get legislation through Congress. I'm guessing he passed more legislation per year in office than any other president. You're right about Polk, too. He was also very successful as president, in part because of his Congressional experience.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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Code Blue,
So I was watching the news last night about the election and one of the commentators said, "This is the end of single party rule." Live and learn. Except for in this thread a few hours earlier, I had never heard that phrase used that way before. So if 'single party rule' is the way we want to describe all executive and legislative power in the hands of one majority party, then I'm on board now. I suppose what I was calling 'difused power' should then be called multi-party rule?

As to what you want, I don't find it evasive, obuse, or even vague. But as to 'How do we construct a government so that you can get what you want?' we haven't moved beyond me favoring single party rule and you favoring multi-party rule. I'm starting to think we're stuck there.

Thanks for that earlier comment about multi-party rule forcing, or at least encouraging, bipartisan cooperation. That was something to think about.
 

Code Blue

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Feb 2015
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Code Blue,
So I was watching the news last night about the election and one of the commentators said, "This is the end of single party rule." Live and learn. Except for in this thread a few hours earlier, I had never heard that phrase used that way before. So if 'single party rule' is the way we want to describe all executive and legislative power in the hands of one majority party, then I'm on board now. I suppose what I was calling 'difused power' should then be called multi-party rule?

As to what you want, I don't find it evasive, obuse, or even vague. But as to 'How do we construct a government so that you can get what you want?' we haven't moved beyond me favoring single party rule and you favoring multi-party rule. I'm starting to think we're stuck there.

Thanks for that earlier comment about multi-party rule forcing, or at least encouraging, bipartisan cooperation. That was something to think about.
I would suggest that whoever used the "one-party rule" rhetoric is opposed to that one party. In 1994, much of the coverage was critical of the voters for getting rid of one-party rule.
Peter Jennings - "Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week....Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old."

or critical of themselves for not cheer-leading enough and allowing this mishap to occur
Tom Brokaw to Tim Russert - "During the past two years, they have passed the crime bill. They have made progress on [...blah, blah, blah...]. Do think the press has been too focused on other ancillary issues?"

"Thanks for that earlier comment about multi-party rule forcing, or at least encouraging, bipartisan cooperation. That was something to think about"
Again, with the opening post in mind :)
Evaluating the US system should be rooted in: 1) what was the philosophy that the Constitution text is attempting to articulate, 2) how good a job did the framers do of articulating it, and 3) what were their "failures" of foresight? Clearly, not seeing the rise of our partisan duopoly is "failure." We are talking of separation of power (checks and balances) in terms of one party checking the other, instead of one branch checking the other - because the parties variously want or don't want the branches to do what they are supposed to do, but rather to do the parties' bidding. Now, if there were five viable parties, simple partisan battle lines would be a lot harder to draw.

Whether it is called bipartisan cooperation or anything else, the framers intended to require broad consensus because that is how one might get to government with and by "the consent of the governed." Super-majorities and checks. And that, is what some might reasonably refer to as gridlock.
 
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Likes: Rodger
Oct 2018
179
Adelaide south Australia
Never is the wrong word.

FWIW, almost no one elected as US President would have qualifed in the Aussie system. I believe #11 Polk was Speaker of the House on election day; and #36 LBJ had been a Senate Majority Leader, but not when he was elected President. I suspect Henry Clay might have been a party leader at least one of the five times he lost in Presidential elections.

The system you describe requires that only those who have steeped the longest in the waters of corruption can become the chief executive. I find little comfort in that.

I confess that I am just learning the Aussie politics from your post, a few internet searches you caused me to make, (and the occasional fact I pick from watching reruns of The Chase). So, you can correct me if this is wrong. You have a monarch, the monarch appoints the governor general, and the governor general can remove the prime minister, and remove the members of Parliament? And this actually happened? And you don't think the queen is running things?
Technically the queen appoints the Governor General and the Governor of each state( What the US call a State Governor, we call a PREMIERE.) In fact those appointments are made by the governing politicians; the queen rubber stamps requests. The Governors' positions are meant to be purely ceremonial. Those who are appointed are 'significant Australians', often after finishing some kind of significant career. There is an unfortunate tendency to appoint retired military and prominent ex politicians. ( I loathe the custom of erecting monuments to politicians especially and also ex military twerps.)

Yes I said trump could never be PM,. I meant he doesn't qualify, and probably never would. He's certainly smart enough and cunning enough, but I doubt politics would have appealed to him as a career due to relatively poor pay. Here, his business dealings simply would not be tolerated in a Prime Minister. If he did not divest himself with alacrity, the party would simply remove him as leader and hence as Prime Minister. Nah, Donald would not do well in Australian Politics---I forgot one important aspect; Australians have always had a healthy contempt for politicians.. Donald would be lucky to get preselection to, well, anything.

Having said that----- Australia has what we call 'the deep north', ( Queensland ) which is an intentional reference to the US deep south in the worst possible meaning of the term. You can also add chunks of Florida, as the place is neck deep in retirees. From there comes all kinds of scams, loons and fascists.

Our own home-grown loon is a current senator, and former Fish And Chip Shop proprietor called PAULINE HANSON. She is a rabid racist, hating initially asians, but more recently Muslims. She has her own party "Pauline Hanson's One Nation" . Did I mention she has the IQ of a shrub? At one point the establishment got so fed up with her that she was charged with electoral fraud and put in prison. The charges were bogus, and later dropped ,and she was released.Whilst in prison Pauline met some really lovely, innocent women, who she promised to help. The one time I really felt sorry for her..

Below is a clip. It's Pauline's maiden (first) speech in parliament, recorded so future generations will not be able to claim she didn't exist:

It's reduced to half length. The full speech is available on Youtube. In Australia, federal parliament is televised



All the kerfuffle about Donald Trump has niggled me. I knew he reminded me of someone ; Yep, our version of Donald Trump; Clive Palmer.. He's from Queensland and a 'self made' , sleazy millionaire. He's unlike Donald in that he is grossly overweight. He possesses a certain low cunning, apparently without any significant intelligence behind it. The things I've seen on TV and read about him suggest he's a nasty piece of work.

The clip is only 3 minutes, from a Public Broadcasting programme called Q&A. It's a panel show with a live audience. Questions are taken from the audience and from twitter. It's common to have politicians from opposing sides on the panel. On this occasion Penny Wong, a very smart, articulate Labor politician is the Asian lady to Clive's right.. Penny belongs the left faction of our main centre left party. Penny is also gay, married, and has been a vocal gay activist for many year;.


Neither atheism nor homosexuality are any impediment to a politician in Australia. In fact , my state's most revered Labor Premiere, Don Dunstan, was as gay as a lark, and everyone knew it. He once wore pink shorts to parliament.
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An aside, not that long ago we had our very own version of Huey Kingfisher Long. His name was Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, and he was Premiere of-----------Queensland, naturally. I think he'd be called alt-right today, or more likely, fascist. His wife was a senator in her own right from 1981 to 1993. . Her name was Flo (yep, Joh and Flo) She was famous for her pumpkin scones. I kid you not.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
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Caribbean
You are getting dangerously close to having a mod shut this down as an discussion of “current politics.” It is only by certain graces that conversation is allowed to drift north of AD 1991. This is why I keep telling Chlodio I feel obligated to tie my responses to the opening post, the US Constitution – and even vis-a-vis other Constitutions. And I have read bits of the Aussie Constitution. So, I am going to respond to you by adhering to the OP, and other “principles.”

First, I'd like to put together my point that the "Parliamentary" ("Westminster" according to Chlodio) approaches leading to chief executives steeped in corruption and your Fish-n-Chips lady. My dislike of these Parliamentary methods is that they maintain a class system of elites and lowly citizens. In Britain, there is a House of “Lords” and Commoners. I would prefer a Fish-and-Chips shop owner to a career politician. IMO, most of the most-loathesome of the US politicians are the ones who graduated (usually from law school), went straight into politics, where they have spent life engaging in a form of “insider trading” for their own advantage, and never had a REAL JOB in their entire lives.

One of the “failures” of the Framers in the US – a theme I referred to earlier - is that they did not Constitutionalize their consensus for what we call today, “term limits,” what some of them called “rotation.” They “self-governed” and term-limited themselves. The original Supreme Court members did not sit for life, and no President ran for a third term until 1940. They did not “believe in” what we call today “a permanent ruling class,” something which I perceive as the hallmark of British and Commonwealth systems, and the earmarks of which are too prominent in the US. The Dingell family has controlled a seat in Congress for what must be 80 years, and the Murkowski family has controlled one what must be 50 years.

You are correct to refer to the US current occupant as a “politician,” but he wasn't when he first declared and ran. And most of our Founders and Framers were people who had real jobs, and went back them after a foray into founding and framing. I don't know that I would call Abe Lincoln "Honest Abe," but he did know what it was to do an HONEST day's work.

It is that symbolism of not being one of “them” that is part of the voter-appeal of the current occupant. IMO, in 2016, there was no one in the US House of Bush that was going to defeat the House of Clinton. There is a movie called Mr Smith Goes to Washington. A regular guy is appointed to fill a Senatorial vacancy, Mr. Smith isn't one of “them/” When he asks the media why they lied about him, they told him plain out they were offended by the audacity of someone who wasn't one of “them” (like a Fish-and-Chips entrepreneur) coming to DC telling people how things out to be done. A sequel to that movie was run live yesterday at a press conference.

I listened to the Fish lady speech and heard nothing “rabid.” As to it being “racist,” it is nothing different than political debate that has occurred as far back as the Old Testament. That is, there has always been argument that the “redistribution” of part of the government's booty is “disproportional” with respect to group identities. What I sense here is the omnipresent hypocrisy of partisanship that insists some such arguments about disproportion are “civil rights advocacy” and other such arguments are “racism.” Maybe Aussie English doesn't translate to American English – but just seconds in, I heard - “in response to my call for equality for all Australians."

Like I said, I like to watch the Chase-Australia reruns. I always think how much I like the Aussie Chasers (as Schultz is as good at quizzing as Laver was at tennis, and Schultz has a far better sense of humor) and how the producers should just sent the British Chasers back to the Chase UK (which I also enjoy). Though, I wonder if having admitted to that if you will accuse me of rabid racism.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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Code Blue,
What if it was possible for one party to obtain a super majority? If one party did control 300 seats in the House and 65 seats in the Senate, would you be OK with single party rule?
 

Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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What is it about America that discourages the emergence of large, permanent third party movements? I know that third parties have usually been eventually absorbed into one of the two main parties. My question is why?
 
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What is it about America that discourages the emergence of large, permanent third party movements? I know that third parties have usually been eventually absorbed into one of the two main parties. My question is why?
Although most people have never read any of it, the Federalist Papers argues against "faction" (Madison or Hamilton - I am not sure). Factions historically have tended to be disruptive and to disregard the good of the whole (the Union). That was likely unrealistic of the author as political groupings always have their interests exclusive of others'. The US two-party system evolved rather than being established. Whatever analysis one wants to make of that, Americans have through 200 years become accustomed to opposed, but politically accommodating parties. I am not going to get into the current dysfunction.

It is correct to say that most temporary groupings (Whigs; National Republicans; Free Soil, etc.) were absorbed into either Democrats (from the 1820s) or Republicans (late 1850s). The "Two Party System" dates from the Civil War. Other party entities have never gotten enough traction to be much of a factor. Parliamentary, coalition, politics is to Americans foreign, confusing and essentially bizarre.

Americans tend to be Us -vs -Them /Good vs Bad type people. During the Civil War that seems to have become institutionalized. Americans, as are virtually all others, are tribal politically. Their loyalties are in many cases enshrined, passed on through families and regional identities. Far too often they will vote against their own interests rather than vote for the "other side." It is strange and inexplicable, but there it is.
 
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Likes: Chlodio

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,533
Caribbean
Code Blue,
What if it was possible for one party to obtain a super majority? If one party did control 300 seats in the House and 65 seats in the Senate, would you be OK with single party rule?
And 9 Justices, and 40 state legislatures?

I don't understand. Super-majority IS possible. And I don't know what you mean by "OK."

Are you OK with it?
OK with Lincoln locking people up for disagreeing with him, and the Radical Republicans certifying and decertifying states and Senators depending how they were expecting these Democrats to vote?
OK with the Nazi's, the Fascisti, Ceausescu?

I am wondering how my earlier claim that we would all be OK with a good king and hate the idea of a bad king does not answer the question for both us?
 
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