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November 14th, 2004

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02:12 pm - Executive Authority
"The direction of war implies the direction of the common strength; and the power of directing and employing the common strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the executive authority." (The Federalist Number 74, Alexander Hamilton, 1788)

Chief Executives, or Magistrates, enforce the laws passed by the Legislature. The genius of the American Constitution is that the President is also subject to the law, and is removable for violating it.

Where the Constitution falls down, in my opinion, is in making the Head of State (HS) the same person as the Head of Government</font> (HG). The HS should provide, like the British Monarch, for the continuity of the State, even when the government is in flux or embroiled in scandal. The HG is the person who, like the British Prime Minister, actually provides direction to the government.

In my opinion, these functions should be separated on the British (Parliamentary) model.

Comments? Thoughts?

(17 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:February 21st, 2005 09:01 am (UTC)
I second the motion for the Thinker, lol.

But seriously, youre saying that the head of state should also owe his position to the tsunami-like fluctuation of politics? That's the reason why presidential republics are generally more prone to dictatorship or some other form of top-heavy control of the country at large than the parliamentary ones. In fact, that's the main difference between the two: parliamentary republics would NEVER have a dictator, not at any time in its history, unless the army came to power and threw out the WHOLE parliament and ruled in the name of the King or President (setting up a military junta in the process).

And youre saying that the economy, religion, history, and things like that are actually all part of the nation's politics? Hmm, never thought of it like that before...

And as far as the developments in the UK are concerned, alot of Britons are actually ALARMED about Blair acting like a HS as well as an HG, including, of course, the monarchists ( http://monarchy.net ).
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Date:February 21st, 2005 09:35 am (UTC)
PMs in Britain, and other parliamentary democracies, have always acted like that. From Atlee to Thatcher, that's just how it works. The HS has no power - the PM has always written the monarch's yearly speech, makes the appointments the monarch is meant to, and so on.

When the separated HS is little more than a figurehead, overthrowing him isn't that hard - especially when one is elected. Hitler comes to mind.

I think that, perhaps, it might be best to hold parliamentary elections, then allow those who were elected to parliament to compete for the HG/HS combined position. What would you say to that?
Date:February 21st, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC)
So I guess that's why Canadian Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson's Opening of Parliament speech was written by PM Martin, since it's an announcement of the "Government", which is just another word for the PM and his Cabinet. And in that case, the HS serves as a ceremonial stamp of approval for the Parliament and the Government.

Of course it would be easy for an elected HS to be overthrown, since he was just another mandate of the people, like the nation's Parliament. Which is why I think that a constitutional monarchy based upon either parliamentary or plebiscitary rule is, probably, the best idea.

And the idea for Parliamentarians competing for the HG/HS position? Maybe...I mean, I don't necessarily like the idea of a legal tyrant, so I'm pretty wary of the idea.
[User Picture]
Date:February 23rd, 2005 01:57 am (UTC)
You want to institute a constitutional monarchy? Just to serve as a ceremonial stamp of approval? If the Government is telling the HS what to do, then how is the HS going to be anything but a stamp of approval, no matter what the Government does? What point is there in a leader who can do nothing but follow his own followers?
[User Picture]
Date:February 23rd, 2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
If the HS is truly divorced from politics, then he or she can excercise a moral authority, as a moderating influence on the party in power.

As an example: while Hindenburg was HS, he was able to hold Hitler and the other far-right parties in check. He actually had very little constitutional authority (except to dismiss parliament, which I do not believe he actually ever did except when the government failed a no-confidence vote), but because his attitude of disdain towards Hitler was well-known, the Nazis actually lost ground in the last election before Hindenburg's death.

Of course, after Hindenburg died, the Nazis went ahead and siezed power any way, so perhaps this isn't the best example...
[User Picture]
Date:February 27th, 2005 02:59 am (UTC)
Considering how fallible any one person is on moral grounds, and how likely it is that an HS given moral authority might attempt to enforce his or her own brand of moral authority (eg religion and value systems) on those who may not agree with the philosophy thereof, I'd rather the stabilizing moral power of a nation be as diffused as possible, including as many people as possible, thereby providing a much more stable base than any one person could.
Date:February 24th, 2005 04:40 am (UTC)
Look, all I'm saying is that I'm wary of the fact that a president (who has both HS and HG powers) would have the right to veto an act of his country's legislature (heaven forbid his country's plebiscite), since that would mean that he has been given the power to veto, or reject, the ultimate decision of his country's people, as even the legislature itself is the delegated voice of the people.

Maybe a monarchy or ceremonial HS wouldn't be the best ideas, but the veto thing is the major worry for me, as far as the presidential system is concerned. Any suggestions?
[User Picture]
Date:February 27th, 2005 03:05 am (UTC)
I wouldn't mind seeing a president who is less detached from the legislature - if we make him or her publicly electable from the body of people who won seats in the legislature, then what we get is a hybrid of president and prime minister that should work better, and hopefully relieve some of the constant contention that mangles bills. With a system liek this, we can do away with the veto.

However, this should only be done once there's proportional representation, of course.

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