Consensus and the Constitution
Last week, I mentioned my proposal for a bipartisan executive as a way to defuse partisan conflict in Washington. Earlier this week, in his Ideas column in the Boston Globe, Leon Neyfakh considered the possibility of a bipartisan executive, as well as other remedies that have been proposed for the dysfunction in our national government, including Sandy Levinson’s “Undemocratic Constitution” and the “unbundled executive” of Christopher Berry and Jacob Gersen.
As Neyfakh observes, whether or not we adopt any of these proposals, our consideration of them may lead us to reforms that can make for a more effective political system. With my book, I want people to pay more attention to the connection between dysfunction in Washington and the framers’ decision in favor of a single rather than plural executive.
A bipartisan executive not only could address the problem of partisan conflict, it also would respond to the problem of the imperial presidency. The failure of external checks on presidential power makes an internal check desirable. The framers weakened legislative power by dividing it and requiring it to be shared by a House and Senate. We can rebalance power between the executive and legislative branches by dividing the executive power and requiring that it be shared.