Ideological purity and governance

In light of the U.S. debt crisis, Fareed Zakaria compares the American system to parliamentary governance.

Some political scientists long hoped that American parties would become more ideologically pure and coherent, like European parties. They seem to have gotten their wish – and the result is abysmal.

Here’s why: America does not have a parliamentary system like Europe’s, in which one party takes control of all levers of political power – executive and legislative – enacts its agenda and then goes back to the voters. Power in the United States is shared by a set of institutions with overlapping authorities – Congress and the presidency. People have to cooperate for the system to work.

See previously: Debt and responsibility