Monday, April 10, 2006

Situation Normal - Iraq & US Democracies Are A Mess

Most Americans see representative democracy appropriately as the ideal. It would be helpful if we better understood that a functioning democracy is pretty messy, requiring lots of give and take.

Getting a majority vote in a legislative body is tough. When a supermajority is required, it forces more consensus, and predictably will take more time.

Some, including those who are rooting for the United States to be defeated in Iraq, act aghast that the Iraqi Parliament has failed to elects its Prime Minister. However, the recently ratified Iraqi constitution requires the Prime Minister receive a two-thirds vote.

By contrast, how does the mature American democracy do? Well, the California budget requires a two-thirds vote, and, although against the law, the legislature regularly fails to approve a budget on time, sometimes by months.

Although not in the United States Constitution, the Senate needs a supermajority 60% vote to pass controversial laws. It is generally recognized that the Judiciary Committee immigration bill does have sixty votes, and the Senate still adjourned without voting on the bill. The disputes include whether to allow votes on fewer or more amendments.

Democracy is difficult, frustrating, and messy. However, according to Winston Churchill “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”


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