A Federal Presidential System and a State Parliamentary System?


In parliamentary systems the legislature selects the executive, thereby creating some general alignment between the two branches.

Presidential systems allow for one party to control the legislature and another to control the presidency.

Many political scientists favor parliamentary systems. This short Matthew Yglesias piece serves as a good primer.

Temperamentally, I’ve always been drawn to presidential systems, as I would rather have gridlock than a lot of terrible legislation. But I defer to the political scholars on this one.

Either way, this Libby Nelson piece details the rise in “single party states” – where one party controls the legislature and the governorship. Through some mix of strategy, geography, and demographics, there are more Republican single party states than Democratic single party states (I’d be curious to see this by population).

My initial thought was that this the rise in single party states could be a good thing.

In our country, states have immense policy power, but, of course, this power is defined to their state’s jurisdiction. As such, the effects of their actions are limited.

So, if like me, you: (1) worry that parliamentary systems could lead to a lot terrible legislation that could be difficult to unwind, but (2) understand that parliamentary systems may be better suited for policy innovation – then having states be de facto parliamentary systems could come with advantages.

Democratic one party states can enact their dream legislative regimes, as can Republican one party states.

Then we can see what works and what does not.

And (hopefully) the federal government can, when appropriate, adopt what is best working in the states.

Lastly, it’s surely possible that the best legislation comes from cross-party compromise, so we can also learn from the divided party states,which will surely still exist.

Anyways, it’s rather unclear to me that the rise of one party states is a bad thing.

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