LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - We can learn much from British


"Would a queen end U.S. political deadlock?" published June 10, was only the beginning of what could be an interesting discussion.

Harry Truman had a sign in his office reading, "The buck stops here." Not quite.

A president blames a do-nothing Congress, which, in turn, points to a lack of presidential leadership. The buck truly stops with a prime minister, who, as the head of both the executive and legislative branches of government, always bears the ultimate responsibility.

Are you fed up with not having a budget in over two years? Having it larded with pork when it is passed? A chancellor of the Exchequer may be the answer. In my youth, the Conservative Party wooed the working class vote by reducing the tax on beer a few weeks before an election. The chancellor made his budget speech one day; the next evening beer was a penny cheaper.

Tired of boring debates which lead nowhere? A speaker, free of political responsibilities, acquires the expertise to build a debate in which participants, far from parroting the party's talking points, seek to change opponents' minds, and sometimes do.

Are you frustrated by the way a president reads from a Teleprompter, and is then spirited away by the Secret Service, or perhaps takes a few simple questions from friendly reporters? A prime minister is subjected to a weekly ordeal in which he cannot evade direct answers to really important questions posed by members of both parties in Parliament.

Indeed, with the institution of the executive in Parliament, all ministers are subject to serious scrutiny. Future prime ministers can build their reputations, with no need for phony debates or primary elections.

Money plays an undesirable role in politics. Our elections are expensive because they are long, whereas across the Atlantic they are short, and the amount the parties can spend stringently limited.

When political parties are polarized, a system that depends on inter-party cooperation becomes unworkable. Parliament is at its best when a Gladstone and a Disraeli battle each other across the dispatch box.

Yes, the queen as head of state is a unifying figure, but there is much we can learn from other actors on the British stage.

Gordon Philpot

Walla Walla


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