The Presidential System
CIIS Fellow Professor Herbert Abrams is a member of a committee set up
to study what course should be adopted in case the President is incapacitated
by illness. This has happened several times, the most noteworthy being
that of Woodrow Wilson. His case was studied by Dr. Edwin Weinstein, who
died on September 7. This problem involves omplicated constitutional
issues, but the committee did not consider the case of President Clinton,
whose pathology is different. The sacrosanct constitution has been
studied exhaustively to discover the "original intent" of its writers.
What is overlooked is the simple fact that they selected the presidential
system, thus creating an "imperial presidency." Meanwhile, the other
English-speaking countries were busy updating the parliamentary system.
It was imperial in mnay ways, one being that Jefferson was a great imperialist,
extending the U.S. from sea to shining sea. Montesquieu would argue that
a parliamentary democracy would be impossible in a country as large as
the United States. Yet Canada, which is actually bigger, developed
its parliamentary system and has a decent government in which the Clinton
problem would not arise. Could the United States function with a parliamentary
system? It is probably too late.
Ronald Hilton - 10/05/98