A colleague emailed links to these interesting articles on whether there is a Constitutional basis for the current government shutdown. Both are interesting reads from the Washington Post.
The shutdown is the Constitution’s fault.
But it’s not just that Madison’s system is unnecessary. It’s potentially dangerous. Scholars of comparative politics have shown that presidential systems with a separation of executive and legislative functions, like America’s, are considerably more likely to collapse into dictatorship than are parliamentary systems where the executive and legislative branches are merged. That’s because there are competing branches of government able to claim democratic legitimacy and steer the ship of state at the same time — and when they disagree profoundly, there’s no real mechanism for resolving the dispute.
And the rebuttal:
It’s not Madison. It’s the Republicans.
But in my view, the problem isn’t system impasse; it’s that one of today’s parties is attempting to function under a “principle” of rejecting compromise.