I’ve been watching a lot of C-SPAN lately, where I’ve been amazed at seeing the British & Canadian parliaments in action. Apparently in both countries the Prime Minister meets regularly before parliament and joins in debate on the issues of the day. And these are nothing like the “debates” you see in the U.S. Congress, where people politely take turns droning on (& on & on…), but no one seems to really care what they say. I was stunned to hear people shouting in support or derision of the positions being taken, and being able to spontaneously stand up & ask questions or state positions. (I have to say that my favorite example of this came from the “Daily Show” though, where one Australian minister yelled “Murderer!” at the Prime Minister.)
So why can’t we do that here? It seems somehow pathetic that the only regular time the President meets with Congress is for the State of the Union address, which is strictly a monologue and the strongest dissent you see is people not rising to applaud on one side of the aisle. Of course, our current president would probably blow a gasket at the thought of having to face something like that (regardless of how bright he may or may not be, he doesn’t seem to like being disagreed with), but it would probably do everyone good to get really engaged in discussion with each other, rather than doing so by proxy through PR people, advertisements, etc.