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  •  About the veto.. (8+ / 0-)

    Far from being an American contrivance, the veto is a throw-back to the ancient Roman republic (back when Classicism was all the rage)--- tribunes of the people were able to veto the Senate's legislation.  It was a critical bulwark to defend the interests of the regular folk (the plebeians or plebes) against those of the Roman 1%.

    The word veto was Latin meaning "I forbid (it)!", and is what the tribune would say to block legislation (technically, it would block the application of the legislation); the process itself the Romans called intercession (intercessio).

    In any event, the notion that one branch of government be able to slow down the other was lifted directly from the Roman Republic, which gained a system of checks and balances over th years.  The veto features in every 'presidential' system, for instance that of French 5th Republic, and most of Latin America.  The countries you list are called 'Westminster' governments.  They have a head of government that comes from the parliament, along with a ceremonial head of state, and no real system of checks and balances.  

    Poli-sci classes debate which might be better (it's a good barroom topic), but they're both fairly common.  Westminster is more common around the world because most new countries were colonies of Britain or France when it still had such a system.  

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:30:19 AM PDT

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    •  Fair points. (1+ / 0-)
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      But I come back to my original claim which is that the Veto can be better limited without being eliminated or America adopting a parliamentary/westminster system.

      If you read the federalist writings on it, it's clear the Veto was intended for limited purposes not "I don't like the policy consequences of this bill on the marketplace" but rather "the legislature is trying to steal my powers."

      Washington and Jefferson thought Exec should generally defer to the legislature.  

      Maybe the override should be 3/5.  Or the veto only be usable if bills try to limit Executive power or under some other set of more specific circumstances.  

      The empirical record of its use is not good and progressives should not love it.   It's not as bad as the filibuster, but it's close.   Going back to Rome, I'm really skeptical that in practice the veto was used very often to protect the people from the 1%.  Tribunes and later Emperors gave out bread and circuses to keep themselves in power, but Rome was about as regressive an economic and social system as you could possibly devise.

      •  True, but: (3+ / 0-)
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        codairem, trumpeter, Scientician

        In a sense, the executive and legislative branches were deliberately set up to keep an eye on each other.  That's why the democratically elected legislature's laws need the democratically elected executive's consent.  To be quite honest, the fact that the two branches are often at loggerheads reflects the reality that the voting population has self-contradicting priorities.  

        I should add that the original Articles of Confederation did not have an executive veto, and this was found to be a problem (one among many).

        Hamilton himself argues (F 73) that a president's use of veto powers would be tempered by his eventual need to be re-elected; that is, if the people are upset with his decision, out he goes.  So if his priorities go against those of his electors, he'll learn soon enough.  

        As for the Roman Republic... ancient Rome, like all societies of any wealth before 1950 or so, was marked by high income and wealth inequality; the availability of a veto is not a factor.  That said, the veto power of the tribunes was matched with their ability to propose legislature (to the Plebeian Assembly).  Given that this assembly represented only the Roman 99%, tribunes did try to address social issues, though they were often stymied by the Senate or the Army.  A very famous tribune was Tiberius Gracchus, whose land redistribution reform led to his eventual assassination.  

        Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

        by nominalize on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:30:04 AM PDT

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