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Q: What's wrong with the U.S? A: It's a "veto-cracy".

yllus

Elite Member & Lifer
Aug 20, 2000
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I've been kicking around similar thoughts for a while as well. The British and Canadian parliamentary systems centralize power pretty tightly in the Prime Minister's office (and 10-20 elected representatives who are given cabinet-level appointments). Even if the Prime Minister's party is a minority and it takes a coalition to govern, the process of passing bills is fairly streamlined because the party introducing bills already has the votes to pass them. There are checks (the court and the Senate), but things get done. Maybe a streamlining and simplification of process is what America needs.

The New York Times - Down With Everything

DOES America need an Arab Spring? That was the question on my mind when I called Frank Fukuyama, the Stanford professor and author of “The End of History and the Last Man.” Fukuyama has been working on a two-volume opus called “The Origins of Political Order,” and I could detect from his recent writings that his research was leading him to ask a very radical question about America’s political order today, namely: has American gone from a democracy to a “vetocracy” — from a system designed to prevent anyone in government from amassing too much power to a system in which no one can aggregate enough power to make any important decisions at all?

“There is a crisis of authority, and we’re not prepared to think about it in these terms,” said Fukuyama. “When Americans think about the problem of government, it is always about constraining the government and limiting its scope.” That dates back to our founding political culture. The rule of law, regular democratic rotations in power and human rights protections were all put in place to create obstacles to overbearing, overly centralized government. “But we forget,” Fukuyama added, “that government was also created to act and make decisions.”

That is being lost at the federal level. A system with as many checks and balances built into it as ours assumes — indeed requires — a certain minimum level of cooperation on major issues between the two parties, despite ideological differences. Unfortunately, since the end of the cold war, which was a hugely powerful force compelling compromise between the parties, several factors are combining to paralyze our whole system.

For starters, we’ve added more checks and balances to make decision-making even more difficult — such as senatorial holds now being used to block any appointments by the executive branch or the Senate filibuster rule, effectively requiring a 60-vote majority to pass any major piece of legislation, rather than 51 votes. Also, our political divisions have become more venomous than ever. As Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator, once remarked to me: At the rate that polarization is proceeding, partisans will soon be demanding that consumer products reflect their politics: “We’re going to have Republican and Democrat toothpaste.”

In addition, the Internet, the blogosphere and C-Span’s coverage of the workings of the House and Senate have made every lawmaker more transparent — making back-room deals by lawmakers less possible and public posturing the 24/7 norm. And, finally, the huge expansion of the federal government, and the increasing importance of money in politics, have hugely expanded the number of special-interest lobbies and their ability to influence and clog decision-making.

Indeed, America today increasingly looks like the society that the political scientist Mancur Olson wrote about in his 1982 classic “The Rise and Decline of Nations.” He warned that when a country amasses too many highly focused special-interest lobbies — which have an inherent advantage over the broad majority, which is fixated on the well-being of the country as a whole — they can, like a multilimbed octopus, choke the life out of a political system, unless the majority truly mobilizes against them.

To put it another way, says Fukuyama, America’s collection of minority special-interest groups is now bigger, more mobilized and richer than ever, while all the mechanisms to enforce the will of the majority are weaker than ever. The effect of this is either legislative paralysis or suboptimal, Rube Goldberg-esque, patched-together-compromises, often made in response to crises with no due diligence. That is our vetocracy.

The Financial Times columnist Ed Luce, the author of the new book “Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent,” notes that if you believe the fantasy that America’s economic success derives from having had a government that stayed out of the way, then gridlock and vetocracy are just fine with you. But if you have a proper understanding of American history — so you know that government played a vital role in generating growth by maintaining the rule of law, promulgating regulations that incentivize risk-taking and prevent recklessness, educating the work force, building infrastructure and funding scientific research — then a vetocracy becomes a very dangerous thing.

It undermines the secret of our success: a balanced public-private partnership.

“If we are to get out of our present paralysis, we need not only strong leadership, but changes in institutional rules,” argues Fukuyama. These would include eliminating senatorial holds and the filibuster for routine legislation and having budgets drawn up by a much smaller supercommittee of legislators — like those that handle military base closings — with “heavy technocratic input from a nonpartisan agency like the Congressional Budget Office,” insulated from interest-group pressures and put before Congress in a single, unamendable, up-or-down vote.

I know what you’re thinking: “That will never happen.” And do you know what I’m thinking? “Then we will never be a great country again, no matter who is elected.” We can’t be great as long as we remain a vetocracy rather than a democracy. Our deformed political system — with a Congress that’s become a forum for legalized bribery — is now truly holding us back.
 

Dman8777

Senior member
Mar 28, 2011
423
1
81
Seems like a plausible explanation. Also seems like a concept that will be difficult to frame as a rallying call for the masses who ultimately have to get involved.
 

a777pilot

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2011
4,261
21
81
The best thing America could do is vote out every incumbent and elect those that would actually follow the US Constitution. What an original idea....follow the Constitution.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
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I think that this is far from the worst problem we have, and this is in fact perhaps more of a consequence of the real issue, that being that there is no accountability during terms in office. We have a an effective dictatorship in the White House for four years, and for the length of time the other officials serve.

IMO one of most serious flaws of the Constitution is that there is no accountability while in office and it did not take into account the overwhelming influence parties have over government. The partisans often make it clear that they believe that the public is more or less owned by one of the two major parties with nonsense statements about having been given permission to govern in any way the winning party chooses to and that they are "accountable" at the end of that term. What that really means is that we pick one of the only choices and hope they do something right and those who aren't in favor of a particular agenda are might as well be disfranchised.

Consequently what we have is a divisive system which allows those of a particular party to not lead, but to rule and be utterly unaccountable while in office. As both sides know this the losers will oppose based mostly on partisan considerations but our system permits this to avoid a completely authoritarian government. This failure of accountability results in a complete lack of trust since once a thing the party puts into movement cannot be recalled by the people. We are spectators, not participants.

Yes, changing the rules would avoid gridlock but at what price? The complete exclusion of input from anyone who isn't a ruling party office holder?

Giving unchallenged power to a party is a far worse idea than what we have.

What we need is a mechanism where the public can effectively call for a vote of no confidence or have a veto by popular vote once some established criteria is met. Parties rule government so the people must have a way to rule them while in office.
 
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Anarchist420

Diamond Member
Feb 13, 2010
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The OP is full of fail precisely because we're not even in gridlock. The U.S. Articles of Federal Republic makes true vetocracy impossible anyway given that it requires nothing more than an absolute majority of both chambers for pretty much anything. The executive has a huge amount of power and Congress doesn't sincerely give a damn about that. If the Republican controlled House had wanted a balanced budget this past fiscal year, they could've gotten it; instead, they went right along with what Obama wanted other than more revenue.

The government here is already way too similar to the Parliament of the U.K.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
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If the Republican controlled House had wanted a balanced budget this past fiscal year, they could've gotten it; instead, they went right along with what Obama wanted other than more revenue.
Following Constitutional procedures, please explain how this would work, including the possibility of a veto.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,950
3,745
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"I know what you’re thinking: “That will never happen.” And do you know what I’m thinking? “Then we will never be a great country again, no matter who is elected.” We can’t be great as long as we remain a vetocracy rather than a democracy. Our deformed political system — with a Congress that’s become a forum for legalized bribery — is now truly holding us back."

You have to understand that the Democrats are the party of governance and the Republicans are the party of anti-government. The problem is that the people used to trust government and they have been exposed to experiences that make them no longer do so. This is a fatal form of thinking, a product of conservative brain disease and liberal lack of self confidence. Our country is being destroyed by paranoid delusional who want to save it from government power and from folk who have been too intimidated to govern. The situation is hopeless. We have lost our way and our days are numbered. The ability to rationally work our way out of the state we have fallen into has been lost. People no longer function with reason. We are a bunch of erratic clanking machines headed to the cliff like lemmings. And you don't hear too much about lemmings any more. We are close enough now to be able to sense where we're going so much so that some are beginning to wake up. Articles like this are beginning to be written. We are beginning to diagnose our brain disease in small numbers. As I have said, it's a race between death and awakening. But given the depth of the imbecility we face you won't want to hold your breath.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
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I have to say M that considering that parties have demonstrated to my satisfaction at least that their concerns are primary and that of the people at large a distant second that I have no confidence. We once had a thread with a comment that what we need is good governance, however I maintained and still do that until the people that represent us have our interests at heart and are willing to look beyond their party limited boundaries that good government is not possible. Good people are needed for good leaders. We need a reformation of people in office, who desire to lead, but do not understand that to lead one must serve. I don't see a sacrifice of self necessary to do that, and I mean of the ego.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,950
3,745
126
I have to say M that considering that parties have demonstrated to my satisfaction at least that their concerns are primary and that of the people at large a distant second that I have no confidence. We once had a thread with a comment that what we need is good governance, however I maintained and still do that until the people that represent us have our interests at heart and are willing to look beyond their party limited boundaries that good government is not possible. Good people are needed for good leaders. We need a reformation of people in office, who desire to lead, but do not understand that to lead one must serve. I don't see a sacrifice of self necessary to do that, and I mean of the ego.
The ego is self hate. In ordinary life it takes a princess to feel it like a pea under 39 mattresses, but the pea is becoming a rock and the mattresses 39 sets of armor. The din may become enough to wake some of the dead.

No society will have selfless people that is filled with fear and need. The job of the government is to provide security to children so they can grow up unstressed and educated with their brains whole and their deeper selves intact. The sickness of bullying among children is down to what? kindergarten, today? We can never get to the point where we look to see how we become what we are because we can't stand what we see.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
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The ego is self hate. In ordinary life it takes a princess to feel it like a pea under 39 mattresses, but the pea is becoming a rock and the mattresses 39 sets of armor. The din may become enough to wake some of the dead.

No society will have selfless people that is filled with fear and need. The job of the government is to provide security to children so they can grow up unstressed and educated with their brains whole and their deeper selves intact. The sickness of bullying among children is down to what? kindergarten, today? We can never get to the point where we look to see how we become what we are because we can't stand what we see.
Then we have a conundrum. Government is people and if they suffer from fear and need? What if their ego consumes them? That's my concern, not that government is per se evil, but if the people who constitute it are diseased, then perhaps "physician heal thyself" applies.

I do not have a solution here, but raise what I see as a concern, and that is unless people who can see beyond themselves do not act in such a way to lift government beyond it's own problems, and their neighbors as well, how can that institution govern well?

For me the perhaps simplistic "go and do likewise" is the solution.
 
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Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
29,964
3,471
126
What we need is a mechanism where the public can effectively call for a vote of no confidence or have a veto by popular vote once some established criteria is met. Parties rule government so the people must have a way to rule them while in office.
Well if you want me to get creative...

Government,
simple majority, 50%:

Restore, ensure, the power of a simple majority in the Senate and Congress.

The people, super majority, 60%:
Give the power of a filibusterer to the people. Before any bills may go into effect they must pass a November popular vote. Each bill must receive at least 40% of the popular vote to survive the people's veto. Takes a super majority voting 'no' to kill the Bill.

Recall:
Now here's the kicker, each super majority vote, (0-39%, 60-100%) by the people is recorded and held against Senators, and Congressmen who originally voted against the people's choice.

If a majority, 50%, of their votes are against a super majority decision by the people (from their state?), then they are automatically recalled and removed from office.
 

yllus

Elite Member & Lifer
Aug 20, 2000
20,583
431
126
I think that this is far from the worst problem we have, and this is in fact perhaps more of a consequence of the real issue, that being that there is no accountability during terms in office. We have a an effective dictatorship in the White House for four years, and for the length of time the other officials serve.
My read of America's plight is the exact opposite. I think you need to elect representatives to fewer, longer terms. Maybe an election every seven or eight years instead of every four with a cap of three terms maximum.

By all accounts it takes a U.S. Senator years before they are effective in their jobs. During all of this time, they are mentally counting down the days until their re-election campaign takes place and have to keep up connections and do favours to make sure his war chest is ready for the next election. They probably take six to ten months in their last year and dedicate it to re-election efforts instead of the job, too. So not only are they distracted from the real job at hand at all times, they're also beholden to special interests who they need to beg money from every four years.

When the public does hold an election... have some faith and let your representatives carry out the job of legislating without threatening to impeach or recall them for every little decision. No company in the world would exist for long with those insane rules and scrutiny. Business requires a certain amount of secrecy and things said only in private; government is no different. And there's nothing that bad that can be done which at worst cannot be undone a few years later.

In general the oppositional nature of politics used almost everywhere in the world probably needs a replacement. If you think about it, having 40% of the government dedicated to impeding, criticizing and destroying what the other 60% is trying to build is a recipe for failure. A more technocratic system is sorely needed but for the issue of how to keep it moral and well criticized.
 

yllus

Elite Member & Lifer
Aug 20, 2000
20,583
431
126
Well if you want me to get creative...

Government,
simple majority, 50%:

Restore, ensure, the power of a simple majority in the Senate and Congress.

The people, super majority, 60%:
Give the power of a filibusterer to the people. Before any bills may go into effect they must pass a November popular vote. Each bill must receive at least 40% of the popular vote to survive the people's veto. Takes a super majority voting 'no' to kill the Bill.

Recall:
Now here's the kicker, each super majority vote, (0-39%, 60-100%) by the people is recorded and held against Senators, and Congressmen who originally voted against the people's choice.

If a majority, 50%, of their votes are against a super majority decision by the people (from their state?), then they are automatically recalled and removed from office.
No offense meant, but this is a terrible idea. The incentive here for would-be politicians is clear: Always promise lower taxes. Preach the most watered down, generalized, populist message possible. Never increase funding on anything as it'll just get shot down by a shortsighted populace anyways. How would this be progress?
 
Dec 10, 2005
20,875
2,321
126
The best thing America could do is vote out every incumbent and elect those that would actually follow the US Constitution. What an original idea....follow the Constitution.
Sounds great... now who's interpretation do you follow? Even the Founding Fathers couldn't agree on what each provision meant.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,880
4,212
126
My read of America's plight is the exact opposite. I think you need to elect representatives to fewer, longer terms. Maybe an election every seven or eight years instead of every four with a cap of three terms maximum.

By all accounts it takes a U.S. Senator years before they are effective in their jobs. During all of this time, they are mentally counting down the days until their re-election campaign takes place and have to keep up connections and do favours to make sure his war chest is ready for the next election. They probably take six to ten months in their last year and dedicate it to re-election efforts instead of the job, too. So not only are they distracted from the real job at hand at all times, they're also beholden to special interests who they need to beg money from every four years.

When the public does hold an election... have some faith and let your representatives carry out the job of legislating without threatening to impeach or recall them for every little decision. No company in the world would exist for long with those insane rules and scrutiny. Business requires a certain amount of secrecy and things said only in private; government is no different. And there's nothing that bad that can be done which at worst cannot be undone a few years later.

In general the oppositional nature of politics used almost everywhere in the world probably needs a replacement. If you think about it, having 40% of the government dedicated to impeding, criticizing and destroying what the other 60% is trying to build is a recipe for failure. A more technocratic system is sorely needed but for the issue of how to keep it moral and well criticized.
I'd like you to consider one change. When you say representative or leader replace it with Republican. When you say government replace that with "republican party".

How do you think this would play out in this predominately Democratic board?

You are subscribing to a common fallacy. You are separating the entity of government from those who run it and distancing them from who pulls their strings. Tell me, do you know of a thing called a government whip? No, because there is no such thing, but you do have whips in Congress who's job is to make members toe the party line. Note not the business of the people, but the party and we have two of those. Eliminating opposition to action does not discourage but embolden those who belong to a controlling party.

Consider one more change.
"What can the Republican Party do over 8 years that cannot possibly be undone?"

Makes some feel a bit uneasy I wager. Substitute "Democratic Party" and you'll get similar angst.

You make a good point in the case of hypothetical leaders, but the reality on the ground demonstrates that representatives do not control government, rather it's those who control them and you can believe that party concerns trump all. Even the lauded Kennedy played party over racial equality at times.
 

Moonbeam

Elite Member
Nov 24, 1999
66,950
3,745
126
It seems to me that politicians have really cool jobs and health benefits that make them feel very self important. Some wonderful conservatives I knew recommended one term and shoot them. I suggested we shoot them first.

So theses folk want to stay in office. They like control and they need lots and lots of money to campaign. So the only political answer that I can see is a Constitutional convention, exactly as unlikely to happen as any other suggestion, in which corporations are stripped of person hood, a total abomination, and money is not speech. I would also require that the public air waves be returned to the people, that commercial radio and TV be banned, and that no political speech anywhere can happen in isolation, that numerous points of view be presented anytime one point of view is. We have totally figured out how to manipulate sleeping ignorant people to sell them things, and we apply the same techniques to gather votes. Special interests are destroying the notion of community and communal interests, the interests of the American people generally. Everything has become about me me me.
 

Jhhnn

No Lifer
Nov 11, 1999
61,830
13,974
136
I have to say M that considering that parties have demonstrated to my satisfaction at least that their concerns are primary and that of the people at large a distant second that I have no confidence. We once had a thread with a comment that what we need is good governance, however I maintained and still do that until the people that represent us have our interests at heart and are willing to look beyond their party limited boundaries that good government is not possible. Good people are needed for good leaders. We need a reformation of people in office, who desire to lead, but do not understand that to lead one must serve. I don't see a sacrifice of self necessary to do that, and I mean of the ego.
I think you're engaging in the usual false equivalency of Repub apologists. The record does not support your conclusion of "They're Just As Bad!" in the slightest.

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/11/chart-day-republicans-and-filibuster

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127368817
 

piasabird

Lifer
Feb 6, 2002
17,183
60
91
Term limits are needed to weed out the people in power. I also think we need both branches of government to have 4 year terms. 2 years is too few and 6 years is too many. Put everyone on 4 year terms and have them all come up for reelection at the same time every 4 years. This way we can vote them all out at once also.

Then instead of mid-term elections have a vote of confidence where we can vote encumbents and all federally appointments, incleding Federal Departments like FBI, CIA, EPA, EDUCATION, FCC, TRANSPORTATION, etc., inclucing federal judges, out of office if that is what is needed for progress. We would do the same thing during the primaries ever 4 years. Once out you cant run for any federal office or be appointed to any federal job. We would have the same kind of vote during the primaries. We also need to streamline the processes and get rid of all caucuses. Caucuses just are unamerican and dont make sense in this modern era. They seem communist to me. We also need to quit having primaries in these miniature states first. We should have primaries in the largest states first like California and Florida and Texas. Lets start in the South where it is warmer.

Lets also limit the amount of time spent on the primaries. They need to be held within 6 months of the election not for 2 years.

We should also consider doing away with some of the czars and redundant Departments.

I also think we should limit the number of delegates we award by population to 4 per state. Then get rid of half of the people in the senate. One Senator per state should be enough. The goal should be to pay for less people in government and not more. Also no one state should be able to amass too many elected Representatives in the House. It has just become stupid-ville.
 
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PokerGuy

Lifer
Jul 2, 2005
13,652
199
101
I think you're engaging in the usual false equivalency of Repub apologists. The record does not support your conclusion of "They're Just As Bad!" in the slightest.

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/11/chart-day-republicans-and-filibuster

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127368817
Showing a surge in the number of filibusters doesn't mean anything. If the amount of stupid legislation surges, then one would expect the number of filibusters to surge accordingly. The repubs were forced to use to filibuster more and more since 2008 to protect us from dumb legislation. The dumb legislation is the bad thing, not the filibuster used to protect us from it.
 

Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
29,964
3,471
126
There seems to be this notion that holding politicians accountable leaves them open to corruption....

It sort of boggle the mind to hear such notions, but you are making a decent case that it's their constant bid for reelection that gets them to sell themselves.

Problem is, they still have to get elected in the FIRST place. Perhaps many of them are paid for on day 1. Leaving them in office does not help anyone.
 

Ausm

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
25,215
13
81
Well if you want me to get creative...

Government,
simple majority, 50%:

Restore, ensure, the power of a simple majority in the Senate and Congress.

The people, super majority, 60%:
Give the power of a filibusterer to the people. Before any bills may go into effect they must pass a November popular vote. Each bill must receive at least 40% of the popular vote to survive the people's veto. Takes a super majority voting 'no' to kill the Bill.

Recall:
Now here's the kicker, each super majority vote, (0-39%, 60-100%) by the people is recorded and held against Senators, and Congressmen who originally voted against the people's choice.

If a majority, 50%, of their votes are against a super majority decision by the people (from their state?), then they are automatically recalled and removed from office.
You must back the Recall in my State then or is this just on a Federal level?
 

Ausm

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
25,215
13
81
Showing a surge in the number of filibusters doesn't mean anything. If the amount of stupid legislation surges, then one would expect the number of filibusters to surge accordingly. The repubs were forced to use to filibuster more and more since 2008 to protect us from dumb legislation. The dumb legislation is the bad thing, not the filibuster used to protect us from it.
What legislation do you find "stupid"? Perhaps any Legislation proposed by a Democrat or backed by a Democratic President?
 

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