Friday, May 7, 2010

Keep an Eye on the Brits, Washington

Maybe if we're lucky we'll get another lesson in government from the Mother Country.

Here's the deal:

No party in England's national election won enough seats in Parliament for a majority, which is required to form a government.  David Cameron's Conservative Party won the most seats (and the most popular votes) but not enough to put a Tory in No. 10 Downing Street.  The ruling Labour Party of Prime Minister Gordon Brown finished second in number of seats won and, by a narrow margin over the Liberal Democrats, in the popular vote.  The Lib Dems were thought to be surging, but actually lost seats, yet nevertheless could emerge as kingmakers.

Their seats plus the Tory seats would be enough to form a coalition government.  That, in fact, is what Cameron has proposed to the Liberal Democrats' charismatic leader, Nick Clegg.  Cameron said his "big, open and comprehensive offer" would ensure stability for the British government and would include LibDem cabinet seats.  Clegg seemed receptive, saying the party with the most seats should govern. (He also refers to Brown as a "squatter" on Downing Street.)

If this coalition happens, it would be somewhat like Mitch McConnell and Dennis Kucinich forming a coalition government here -- if we had more than two parties and a system that allowed for coalition governments.

Wouldn't work, would it?

Don't bet against the Brits.  These, after all, are the people who defeated the Luftwaffe using only "blood, sweat , toil and tears."  They know how to make things work, even if they suffer doing so.

And if they succeed, will we, too, learn how to make coalitions work for the betterment of the people?

In the U.S., the Democrats control the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress -- and haven't done a damned thing to fix the god-awful mess Dubyuh left behind.  Took 'em a year to realize that even lacking 60 votes in the Senate, they could still pass some kind of health care bill.  OK, it's a lousy bill.  But it's something.

Meanwhile, getting control of the economy; providing jobs for millions who are out of work; restoring confidence in the marketplace; devising an intelligent and workable immigration policy, restoring Constitutional values, rule of law and the Bill of Rights; ending illegal, costly and demeaning wars; all of these and other pressing needs go unsolved, like the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Republicans simply vote "no" on everything and let the country flounder like oil-soaked pelicans in the bayou.

If Cameron's coalition comes to be, it will need true cooperation between the left-of-center Lib Dems and the Tory right in order to govern effectively.  If our hapless, corporate-owned, sleazy, lying, cheating pols will watch and learn, perhaps we can still muddle our way to becoming a better country.

Then again, we got the very foundation of our legal system from the Brits, and look what a mess we've made of that! We've even given up Habeas Corpus. 

What's next, politically?  Hogamous, higamous, let's go polygamous.  As the Mother Country may yet prove, it's better than what we've got.

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