Over the last week those on the left have shown their distaste for the American system of checks and balances. President Barack Obama opined that we have a triple-A country but not a triple-A political system. Some congressional Democrats argued that he should ignore Congress and raise the debt limit by executive fiat.
Many Tea Party Republicans have also expressed irritation. I understand and sympathize with that but caution against it. Last week an NPR reporter mellifluously muttered that the British and Canadian systems allowed faster action. He was right. In those parliamentary systems, one election can change the course of a country. In the United States, though, it normally takes two.
The 2010 election transformed the House of Representatives. That's one election. If Republicans successfully walk through the valley of political death, without caving or caterwauling, they can gain the Senate in 2012 and maybe the White House. Then and only then can they roll back Obamacare and get our financial house in order.
Has a lot of the past week been Kabuki theatre, with actors going through ritual motions? Sure. Is the Boehner-Reid-Obama compromise inadequate in reining in the drunken sailor (with apologies to drunken sailors) spending of the past three years? Of course. But we need two elections to change course, not one. This sad deal is the price we pay for having a checks-and-balances system.
The price is high. But would we prefer the British and Canadian system that makes it easier for potential dictators-and we have a lot of politicians hungry for that role-to have their way? Remember: Two elections.