Fareed Zakaria: The U.S. wouldn't have been downgraded if it had a parliamentary system

The problem with America, Zakaria continued, was that both the Presidency and the legislature “claim to speak for the people,” one because of their most recent electoral victory and the other because of their election to the top of the executive ladder. He gave the presidential system some praise– arguing that America avoided the 20th century turn to “quasi-socialist economic plan that set the [UK] in a bad, bad path,” but “in a fast paced world where they are acting quickly and with foresight,” America seemed to be working too slowing for Zakaria.

It’s hard to figure out where to begin with this argument, but as Zakaria’s biggest complaint seems to be against the Tea Party, it’s worth looking at what the Tea Party would be capable of in a parliamentary system. In said systems, because the legislature appoints the executive leader, elections are held in the name of parties, not people. Voters elect one of (typically) any number of parties, which allowed greater access to individuals who do not have the influence of bigger parties behind them. In September 2010, right before the midterm elections, Gallup reports 58% of Americans would have wanted to see a third party form a viable coalition (62% of Tea Partiers did the same).

In a parliamentary system, this would not have been an issue, as the candidates’ name wouldn’t even be on a ballot– meaning, people could choose to elect the “Tea Party” on their ballot instead of a Republican or Democratic nominee. This would have meant people voting for what they liked– say, the rhetoric of then-candidates Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, or perennial non-candidate Sarah Palin– without any regard for the actual person running in their district. Needless to say, the Tea Party would be far more powerful in a parliamentary system than a presidential one, perhaps powerful enough to have led the country to a default.