46 and Done: Why Joe Biden Should Be Our Last President

On January 6, 250 years of American political history seemed to collapse when men who played patriots, armed with zip ties and semi-automatic weapons, besieged the Capitol. Watching the terrible absurdity of traitors filming themselves dangling from the building’s facade was a reminder of what the writers knew from the start: fractionalism is endemic to democracy – and in its downfall.

“The friend of the people’s governments is never as troubled by their character and fate as when he ponders their inclination to this dangerous vice,” wrote James Madison The federal papers (No. 10). To reassure the reader that a minority faction can be controlled by “the Republican principle which enables the majority to thwart their sinister views through regular voting,” Madison concluded that “it will clog the administration and shake society but it will not be able to carry out and mask its violence according to the forms of the constitution. ”And so it did in 2021, albeit barely.

To really save the republic, we have to develop into a parliamentary system. Joe Biden should be our last president.

The United States is the longest-running presidential democracy in the world, an anomaly in a sea of ​​mostly failed experiments. And it is the only purely presidential system, according to political scientist Arend Lijphart in his list of the 21 ongoing democracies since World War II. The vast majority of advanced democracies have shifted to parliamentary systems that empirically have proven to be less controversial and more productive.

Alfred Stepan and Cindy Skach are exhaustive study In the emerging democracies carried out from 1979 to 1989, parliamentary systems were found to be three times more likely to succeed at a rate of 40 percent than presidential systems, which were more than twice as prone to military coups. Their study, published in 1993, analyzed 93 countries that had gained independence since 1945 and found that 61 percent of those who opted for a parliamentary system could still be considered democracies just a few decades later. Not a single presidential system in the same period has survived as a continuous democracy.

And for the duration of their short lives, it’s usually a shit show. Presidents have a legislative majority less than half of the time, compared to 83 percent in parliamentary states that produce multiple parties and often coalition governments that actually support the work of the prime minister. Government coalitions require compromise, and since a parliament elects the prime minister – as opposed to the people – the legislature and the executive have a common agenda. It is a system of interdependence: parliament can ask for a vote of no confidence and effectively dismiss the prime minister, and the prime minister can dissolve parliament.

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