Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Governing by Dialogue and Consensus

The current sad - no, comic would be a better word - state of affairs with the US government political impasse should cause the American people to ask whether the highly polarized two-party system is a viable method of governing.

Consider the Swiss system. The graphic shows the seats held in the Swiss parliament by several different political parties. Each color represents a different party. There are more than just 'reds' and 'blues,' as in the US.

Because no single party controls a majority of votes, the various parties must actually talk with each other, sort out their views on whatever the topic may be, and reach a compromise and consensus that most can accept.

The Swiss do not have a strong, separately elected executive branch. There are instead several leaders over different aspects of the country's affairs - sort of like the American 'Cabinet,' and the leaders take turns being President. No rule by 'Executive Order' or quasi-royal decree, as recent American Presidents have tended to default when they cannot otherwise get their way.

Moreover, most issues are put to a vote -- of the Swiss people! They vote on whether to continue compulsory military service or whether to allow stores to remain open longer in the evenings. The people decide ... not a handful of self-important politicians who are largely controlled by powerful, wealthy lobbying interests.

America could use another major political party ... or two or three. Then maybe there would be some genuine discussion about what's important to the American people.

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