(cross-posted at my own site)
I'm generally not disposed to just sit around appreciating how great our country is in general. Rather, like liberals everywhere, I like to spend my time complaining about what we're getting wrong and how we can fix it.
There are some pretty obvious problem with the United States that pretty much everyone recognizes. Most obviously it is fundamentally unfair that 34 million Californians have to share two senators while the 14 people who live in Wyoming have the same number. This is just a fundamental injustice which was made even worse in light of the fact that Wyoming gave us Dick Cheney.
Our government is also built with too many veto points. If you prefer being oppressed by corporations and rich rather than by the government this is great. If on the other hand you like to have a responsive government that works it's not so great. If you wonder why the federal government can't pass any bills without slathering on the pork look directly to the founding father's insistence no bill could pass unless approved by the house, the senate, the president, the supreme court, one unblemished virgin, and an augur who must affirm that the bones approve.
The many veto points also serve to confound basic responsibility for politicians. I mean, I've often been told that Ronald Reagan would have passed balanced budgets if not for those damn tax-and-spend Democrats in congress. Not true of course but our system doesn't make that obvious. Similarly, Clinton didn't approve of Kyoto but was able to blame it on a Republican senate that wouldn't pass it.
Really we should drop the whole multiple veto point thing and take a look at a parliamentary form of government. Have one big house which is elected with proportional choice, instant run-off elections (like the ASUC only with voters that actually care). This will allow for more than two parties (depending on the cut-off) and the coalition that gets the majority of votes gets to pick the prime minister. This will make parties more accountable and make it easier to pass bills and repeal old ones that suck. And if some prime minister is so unpopular as to be ineffective we'll just hold another election right then and there. Don't you wish we could do that right about now?
Anyhow, those are my thoughts on this fine day of independence. We shouldn't look too harshly on the founding fathers for the shortcomings in the constitution. Democracy was still a new idea then. They were like the first guys on the block to get a satellite dish who ended up keeping the 6 foot giant in the backyard even as their neighbors bought the newer mini roof-mounted ones.