Political theorist Juan Linz died
Tuesday at the age of 86. His work focused on comparative government, including studies on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes
. Linz was also a prominent critic of the presidential system of government used in the United States and in much of Latin America. In his essay, "The Perils of Presidentialism"
(later expanded into book form as The Failure of Presidential Democracy
), Linz argued that presidential systems are inherently unstable, as they invariably lead to standoffs between the president and the legislature, each with competing claims to legitimacy. Thus, as in many Latin American countries, presidential systems frequently collapse, and often are replaced with dictatorships. The one exception to that pattern has been the United States--at least until recently
. In an interview
in January of this year, Linz argued that the US was succumbing to the same dysfunction as other presidential regimes. In Slate
, Matthew Yglesias commemorates Linz by warning that the American system of government may be doomed to an endless cycle of crisis and constitutional disintegration
, as evidenced by the government shutdown. Dylan Matthews concurs
, arguing that the shutdown is "James Madison's fault."
posted by Cash4Lead
on Oct 2, 2013 -
Dissent Is the Health of the Democratic State
- "We live in big, complex societies, which means we are thoroughly interdependent on each other, and that we will naturally have different ideas about how our life in common should go, and will have divergent interests. This means that politics we shall always have with us. It also means that political problems are largely ones about designing and reforming the institutions which shape how we interact with each other..." (via
) [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Mar 6, 2013 -
Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010
: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority
, undermined Obama's mandate
, set the terms of the sequestration fight
, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade
. It's not a new problem
. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act
, it could get a whole lot worse
. And the electoral college may
. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 14, 2012 -
"[T]he corrupting influence of money is the first problem facing this nation. That unless we solve this problem, we won’t solve anything else... The Framers, Lessig says, had just one kind of dependence in mind for members of Congress: a dependence on the people. He quotes The Federalist (the then-anonymous essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that are often used as a contemporary account of the Framers’ intentions) to make this point: number 52 describes the House of Representatives as that “branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone” (emphasis added).
But in the last two decades, Lessig writes, members of Congress have developed a fearsome dependency: campaign cash. The total amount spent on campaigns by all candidates for Congress in 2010 was $1.8 billion. Fundraising has become a way of life..." (via 3 Quarks Daily)
posted by caddis
on Aug 1, 2012 -
Prelude to Federation
- Like a neocolonial SEZ
) Paul Romer
, not to be confused
"less developed countries contract with capitalist nations to set up Hong Kong's for them... that we rethink sovereignty (respect borders, but maybe import administrative control); rethink citizenship (support residency, but maybe import voice in political affairs); and rethink scale (instead of focusing on nations, focus on cities—on city states like Hong Kong and Singapore)." cf. neocameralism
] [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on May 21, 2009 -
The Essential Parallel Between Science and Democracy.
"[T]he restorative steps Obama has taken vis-à-vis science are praiseworthy not so much because they respect science as because they respect the grand institutions of democracy. This is no accident, because the very virtues that make democracy work are also those that make science work: a commitment to reason and transparency, an openness to critical scrutiny, a skepticism toward claims that too neatly support reigning values, a willingness to listen to countervailing opinions, a readiness to admit uncertainty and ignorance, and a respect for evidence gathered according to the sanctioned best practices of the moment."
posted by sarabeth
on Feb 18, 2009 -
Thought June 30th was a real handover of power to the Iraqis? In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. ... The new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval, say U.S. officials and others familiar with the plan.
posted by amberglow
on May 26, 2004 -
Civil Disobedience-Henry David Thoreau
Nothing in here about blocking traffic but a very important historical document for our time.
"The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure."..................
"A democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. "
posted by thedailygrowl
on Mar 21, 2003 -