Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Dangerous President vs Dangerous Precedent 'debate'...

Watching the impeachment debate in the House this morning has left me slightly underwhelmed with what one speaker referred to as this 'tabernacle of democracy'. 

I'm not a regular viewer of this soap opera, so I suppose I will have to allow that this particular episode might not be typical. 

Yet, just as Brexit tended to expose what is both good and bad about the UK's parliamentary system, #POTUS45 has been a sort of flesh and blood bug test of the US Constitution for the past four years. 

Some of the problems I perceived today can be attributed to personalities. Nancy Pelosi's own uninspiring contribution was along the lines of "Lincoln, bla, bla, Kennedy, bla bla, last best hope...etc." 

She's not the only American politician who seems to think history exists in order to be recited like passages from the Bible. 

There's a deeper issue. Westminster-style oratory is famously adversarial. The way different speakers pop up and tussle verbally during the course of a debate allows for a process akin to thesis+antithesis=synthesis. It may be rare, but you sense that opinions can fluctuate in the collective during the time allocated. 

Instead, inside this recently-violated tabernacle, the members of congress pop up and deliver, from notes, the opinions they all must have already possessed when they woke up in the morning. That's really not how democracy is supposed to work. it's certainly not how the Athenians did it.

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