Donatelli Expounds on America as a Parliamentary Democracy in Opinion Piece for The Hill

September 11, 2019

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McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor Frank Donatelli deliberated on the possibility of America shifting to a parliamentary democracy in a Sep. 3 article for The Hill.

Beginning with the premise that change within a democracy should have broader support than a single election and 51 Senate votes, Donatelli reviewed the initial intent of the framers of the Constitution and explained that the filibuster is an additional guarantee that federal policy change is deliberate.

America’s separation of powers is in contrast to the parliamentary democracies in Europe and other parts of the world where the chief executive is elected by the majority party of the legislature. 

“The result is an ability by the government to enact change far more easily and more sweeping, but without deliberation that is characteristic of debate in America,” Donatelli noted.

He continued, “America has ominously been moving more toward a parliamentary system, with more abrupt changes in national policy, less debate, and far less bipartisanship.”

A “get it done now” culture is reflected in political campaigns and parties and it is rare to find candidates who have major disagreements within the consensus of their party. Instead of voting on the views of constituents, members tend to vote in support of the head of his or her party.

“Therefore, ObamaCare was enacted with no Republican votes. Likewise, the Republican tax reform won no Democratic support,” he noted. “Members from moderate districts or purple states are routinely pressured to support their party leadership on unpopular measures in Congress.”

Within America’s presidential system, change should be “long and hard” not “quick and easy,” he said.