I had an instructor at the University of Chicago named Herman Finer. I’ll never forget that name. I don’t know why.
Finer taught a class in political science which to him meant teaching the superiority of a parliamentary system over an American style. He also wrote the core text on the subject.
Somehow at that age (17) I knew he was an ideolog not a challenging intellect. I don’t remember arguing. But I do remember that I had already read the founding papers of the American Republic in the People Shall Judge and the Federalist Papers.
What is relevant to me here today is that the U.S. had a chance in the post WWII era to shape many governments and we always chose the parliamentary system or a version of it because the Finer arguments were dominant and the Confederate-slave Party, the Democrats, had done an effective 20 year job of denigrating America, as they are doing now.
These American Leftwingers designed or heavily influenced the Japanese government, the German, the Israeli and a dozen other emerging nations. Worst of all, these people designed the United Nations.
In terms of stability, it is hard to compare the parliamentary with The American. Many nations have several centuries of experience. They both provide continuity and some restraint on popular extremism.
To me, the issue is adaptation to fundamental issues of power. Every government has an executive arm that executes the laws of the land. Is it responsive to changes in domestic power?
The failure to appreciate the American system is based on a failure to assign high enough value to my most important criterion. America has had three revolutions and has survived all three. No other country has had these revolutions and most could not even survive one of these.
- America has survived a continual mass immigration and always been able to accommodate the newcomers; to actually gain strength from these influxes. Only Australia has come close to dealing with this issue effectively and it is still uncomfortable with the role of an immigrant nation. This accommodation is destroying Europe.
- When a major power fight could not be resolved inside the government, America had a Civil War and survived it. No other country has been able to do this.
- The country made a radical and rapid shift from an agricultural to an industrial economic base and has been effective at representing the change without serious governing distress.
- Lastly America went from a traditional hereditary elite political system to the first meritocracy and has remained representative. Most other countries find their political system still in the hands of the hereditary elite.
For me, those are strong arguments for the American system. Especially since the constitutional founders were very aware of the need to design that element into the governmental structure.