It’s been like an eon since I last drafted something of this kind. Humanities, particularly politics, has been so detached from me for the recent years that it grew peculiar and bizarre. I was hesitant about putting together these ideas that I had, as I feel ‘incompetent’ to discuss such sophisticated matters so to speak. Nevertheless I’ve decided to put down whats on my mind, and hopefully, my callow knowledge of politics won’t let me down. There has always been a public conception, ‘categorizing’ the Americans and the British as more or less the same thing, especially in countries around the far east.(i.
e., China, Japan) Indeed, we are both English speaking country; and it’s debatable that American culture evolved from the pilgrims of Plymouth back in the 17th century. Personally, at least before I physically came to the UK, such statements sounded reasonable enough.
But the tour aghasted me and on all counts altered the way I view things. My first impression as a visitor was that the architecture and design of Westminster Palace emphasized the significance of tradition and rituality. One must be over the ‘bar of the house’ before speaking. A mace is placed on the brackets by the Serjeant At Arms to resemble the presence of the Queen in the House of Commons. The Hansard Reporter notes down ever single wold spoke in the house, and later archives it in the press gallery. These ‘unnecessary complications’ have there spiritual values that reflect the dignity and nobility of members of the parliament; they provide a sense of stability and continuity which thus allow them to work more efficiently and concentrated. In contrary, the Capitol Building is minimalistic, and the only artifact that carries cultural pertinence is perhaps the Hall of Columns. Aside from history, culture, and tradition, the most fundamental distinction between the two political systems lies in presence and absence of a constitution.
The British parliament doesn’t have a document known as the constitution. Instead, its role is fulfilled by various guidelines called the Acts of Parliament. On the other hand, the Supreme Law of the US is rigorously delineated by seven articles collectively know as the US Constitution. As a consequence, in the US it’s almost procedural to reference the constitution in the case of political discourse.
It has already developed into a joke that Republicans criticize Democrats for being ‘unconstitutional’ 24/7. Whereas it’s extremely rare for British politicians to argue that the actions or proposals of their oppositions are ultra vires. Further, the American constitution is exceptionally non-subjective to amendments; especially in current political circumstances, one could even argue it is impossible to make changes in any meaningful respect.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which was designed to preserve sexual equality for all citizens regardless of sex and sought to provide equal rights for women, passed the Congress with support from the majority but failed ratification as only 35 states out of the 38 required approved. In fact, there have been nearly no successful amendments to the US Constitution besides the Bill of Rights back in 1791. What for practical purposes constitutes the British Constitution, The Acts of Parliament, is far more open to development.
From what I’ve gathered on the tour, the equivalent of an amendment, an act, is nothing more than just a bill that passed both the House of Commons and the House of Lords with the royal consent given by the Monarch. The last thing that stood out to me is the execution of ‘separation of power.’ In the UK, every Government Minister must be either an MP or Peer(that is either the House of Commons or House of Lords). In the United States, its antithetical as the doctrine of ‘trias politica’ dictates that one can only belong to one branch of power; and cases such as being in both the government and parliament is strictly prohibited.(that is being in the legislative and executive branch simultaneously)However, it’s worth noting that although the US Constitution has articles entrenching ‘separation of the powers,’ the selection procedure of judicial involves the executive and legislative branch. In particular, members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president and approved of by the Senate.
(The executive and legislative respectively) Yet the UK Supreme Court, just like any other courts, is not framed on a political basis. As a result, this framework brings out one of the many things that I admire of the British Political System — The idea that everyone is subject to the law and members of the parliament aren’t armed with an extra ‘shield.’Quoting my father to end,”The freedom of choice provides one the right to make decisions, but costs of freedom responsibility; and with responsibility, comes alongside relentless pain.” Both the UK and US value highly the freedoms guaranteed by law for the press (newspapers, media), for the freedom of speech and for the freedom to demonstrate. Do the British exaggerate the importance of these ‘freedoms?’