67 online
 
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 38 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/10/22

On "Democracy" Metrics, the US Lags Britain

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Thomas Knapp

Commons Division 2012.
Commons Division 2012.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: UK Parliament)
  Details   Source   DMCA

Boris Johnson, the United Kingdom's scandal-saddled premier, is finally stepping down as leader of the Conservative Party -- which, as British politics are structured, means he's also stepping down as prime minister.

In conjunction with America's recent annual July 4th celebration of independence from the British monarchy as declared in 1776, it seems worth noting that our former rulers seem to have long outdone us when it comes to claims of "representative democracy."

For one thing, the British get more democratic representation than Americans. A LOT more.

Their House of Commons, the equivalent of our House of Representatives, numbers 650 for a population of 68 million, or roughly one MP for every 10,500 citizens. Our "people's house" numbers 435 for a population of 330 million, or roughly one US Representative for every 750,000 citizens.

Their House of Lords -- an even rougher equivalent to our Senate -- boasts 767 members to our 100.

What's more, while Americans are saddled with our political "leaders" for fixed terms (two years for the House, six for the Senate, four for the presidency), barring extreme measures such as impeachment, a prime minister can be sacked and replaced by the majority (or majority coalition) party any time that party loses confidence in him or her, and "snap" elections for the House of Commons can be called at, seemingly, the drop of a hat.

And, finally, the United Kingdom actually turns to "direct democracy" on some of the biggest questions. Case in point: The national referendum on "Brexit" under which the UK left the European Union. The US offers no such mechanism for "direct democracy" at the national level.

One effect (or at least characteristic) of the British system is that the Commons includes representative from no fewer than 11 parties (plus several "independents" and Sinn Fein, which wins seats but abstains from taking them), while the US is bogged down in a supposedly two-party system that really amounts to one party of two warring factions.

While I'm no big fan of government in general, and while democracy as such certainly has its flaws, the British way of doing things is both by far more representative, and notably closer to the Declaration of Independence's dictum that "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government," than the American system.

The comparative difficulty of replacing our rulers causes otherwise short-term turmoils to drag on for years instead of getting settled. That sometimes produces gridlock (a good thing, in my opinion), but more often just allows the ruling party to continue down paths that the majority of Americans don't support.

What can be done about it? Well, amending the US Constitution to make America democracy "more representative" is quite difficult (as amending the Constitution for any reason should be).

On the other hand, if enough states amended their constitutions to create their own UK-style parliamentary systems, the idea might catch on. Hardly perfection (that would be panarchy), but perhaps a good start.

Rate It | View Ratings

Thomas Knapp Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

 
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

2020: I'm So Sick of Superlatives

America Doesn't Have Presidential Debates, But It Should

Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago

Chickenhawk Donald: A Complete and Total Disgrace

The Nunes Memo Only Partially "Vindicates" Trump, But it Fully Indicts the FBI and the FISA Court

Finally, Evidence of Russian Election Meddling ... Oh, Wait

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend