Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Presidential Primaries

Obama and McCain are pulling into the lead of the Democrats and Republicans , respectively. For the past few days, the talk has been like that concerning a horse race. The traffic in ideas has ground to a virtual standstill. I recall being in Italy during elections to parliament in the 1970's. Far less important than the talking heads of American politics was the contest of ideas. The emblems of various parties were ubiquitous on wall posters, from the communist hammer and sicle on the left to the fascist tricolour flame on the right. Almost always, the parties fell short and had to put together a coalition to govern. Some governments were so fragile as to fall in a couple of months. Indeed, Italy has had more prime mministers since the end of World War Two than has had America since 1789.
The relative stability of America's system compared to the governments of Europe is a matter of record. Adopting a parliamentary system is not suited to our temperament or political traditions. But one way in which we could emulate the parliamentary democracies would be to give greater prominence to the contest between competing political philosophies. The American people deserve the respect implicit in the adoption of this approach.
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

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