More and more I am persuaded that a chief flaw in our constitutional system of power separation is the absence of a parliamentary-style “Question Time,” that regularly scheduled romp through blistering interrogation of a prime minister by lowly backbenchers. The practice may not ensure the best of governance at all times, nor always forthright accountability, but it does demand that the head of government be able to speak the native tongue with some passable level of coherence and articulate a defense of “executive” policies that won’t be laughed out of the legislative chamber.
The practice also provides a constant readjustment of the relative standing between — again, loosely speaking — the executive and legislative. If he is unprepared, or if one of his policies is indeed indefensible, the prime minister can easily be made to look like a complete ass, unworthy of high office — and all at the hands of the lowliest of lawmakers. An imperial prime ministry is a lot harder to pull off than an imperial presidency; there’s always someone right in your face: questioning, pushing, exposing.
Can you imagine Bu$hco getting grilled by Senator Jim Webb, or Ron Paul twice a month? How about being questioned by Representative Keith Ellison on why we must kill more Muslims by attacking Iran in the name of national security?
Our representative democracy has taken a severe beating these past 15 years (I include Bill Clinton here because of NAFTA) and it has been proposed by people more educated than I am in the political sphere that the Electoral College is out-moded and that a more parliamentary form of government be installed. Too late for that now since the United States now is The American Federal Empire(TM) and we practically have an oligarchal-corpo-fascist government firmly entrenched.
As the author of this piece notes:
“… try to imagine Mr. Bush standing before Congress once or twice a week for an hour or so, taking unsolicited questions from informed (and therefore naturally hostile) members of the opposition. The only image that comes to mind is a theatre of the absurd — that, or a theatre of the “never was.” I seriously doubt the Republican Party would ever have nominated such inarticulate witlessness way back in 2000 if it knew he’d be subject to these occasional grillings …”
Yes, imagine indeed what could’ve been. Maybe in a parallel universe.