James country’s bicameral legislature managed to last more

James Madison and the other Founding Fathers made many mistakes when designing the checks and balances within Congress.

They made a system that is more likely to collapse and doesn’t account for polarized parties. They made a system that makes it easier for the wrong people to be blamed for issues. The instability of the American Government becomes more and more apparent every year. The bicameral system the Founders created is more likely to collapse than a parliamentary system. New Zealand, Norway, Israel and Sweden all have relatively stable unicameral parliaments. They have lasted for years without collapsing. The UK, Japan, Germany, Spain, Canada and the Netherlands have parliaments where the upper houses are formally weaker than lower houses. They also have not collapsed.

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On the other hand, bicameral systems are not as stable. The US government was compared to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a system that has already collapsed. Besides the US, only one other country’s bicameral legislature managed to last more than 150 years, and that was Chile’s. Their government broke down in the 70’s, and they moved to a more parliamentary system. The Founders also did not account for party polarization. When the US first started, parties were discouraged by the Founders. They were weak and have been for a long time until relatively recently.

With strong polarized parties, the two houses might not agree. When the two houses don’t agree, there are no tie-breakers, and neither house is supreme over the others. Because of this, when a budget plan can’t be passed, there is no other option than to shutdown the government until a side caves. This was not really an issue until parties became very polarized and stopped agreeing with each other as often. Another mistake the Founders made is that it is too easy to blame the wrong people for issues. An example is blaming the president for the economy.

In parliamentary system the upper house directly elects the Prime Minister who controls the budget and taxes. If the economy is bad, it is easy to know who to blame, and they can easily be removed. It’s more difficult to accurately pin the blame in a presidential system. A bad economy could be the House’s fault or the Senate’s fault, but many always blame the president because he is the face of the country even though it was caused by a problem between the two houses. There is no system to resolve a conflict between the two houses.

Quite often, the president receives this blame for the issues instead of congress, and the same congressmen causing the problems stay in power because they are not blamed. The recent government shutdown, for example, was caused because of disagreements in the houses, but many still blame the president. The Founders got many things right when creating congress, but they got several key things wrong. They created a collapse-prone government that has no way to handle party polarization.

As the gap between the two majority parties widens, these issues begin to show themselves much more clearly.