A pipe dream of a book that dares to suggest that we can actually get along, politically speaking.
The Founding Fathers, writes Orentlicher (Law/Indiana Univ.), envisioned the presidency as “a substitute for the British royal family, a constitutional monarch, if you will.” The Congress was supposed to act with deliberation, the president with all due speed, and thus, both “order and energy” would come to the national government. That vision, Orentlicher argues, has been betrayed by the growth of the imperial executive branch, the concurrent growth of political parties and party ideology, and the still more concurrent gridlock that seems to characterize the legislative branch and its interface with the executive. Given all that, the author proposes stealing a page from the French and electing a pair of executives, one from the winning party and one from the runner-up, a scheme that has the virtue of making room for a third party in a way that the current two-party system does not. It is to be noted, of course, that the prime minister/president system of France would likely not translate neatly to our current Constitution, which, of course, would require emending. Orentlicher argues that two executives, a senior and a junior partner, would better represent the now-divided polity and would be more efficient than the single-executive model, restoring some of the due speed the Founders hoped for. The author closes by noting that even if his proposal is a bit pie-in-the-sky, he hopes that even considering it will admit some air into a stagnant political debate and recognize “the connection between the one-person, one-party president and the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.”
A novel and provocative thesis worth hearing out.