But nothing is being done now, and one of the reasons is the zero-sum game that results from only having two parties in the legislature. For example:
CS Monitor: Obama health care summit: Obama should focus on Democrats, not Republicans
Now imagine a scenario with multiple parties. The various parties could coalesce in different arrangements depending on the issue. Parties could cooperate on one issue, disagree on another issue, without having to bear the entire weight of public opinion of the President.
The fact is that the debate over healthcare reform in Congress has been going on for nearly a year now and all sides are deeply dug in.
Before Thursday, Republicans in Congress were already nearly universally opposed to the Democrats’ legislation. And with the majority party flailing and the retaking of Congress looking increasingly possible, politically, the GOP has no reason to help Democrats enact a bill that is patently unacceptable to many in the Republican caucus.
Even a casual read of the Constitution indicates that Congress was intended to be the central institution of the federal government. Congress would more properly fill its constitutional role by containing multiple parties, by causing it to be more independent of the executive.
As currently situated, Congress is either in reaction to, or overly supportive of, the executive branch. All Congressional decisions are taken in light of the position of the White House, as Congress is either controlled by the president's party, or is controlled by the opposition. Either way, the party that controls the executive controls the agenda.
Contrast our situation with the theoretical multi-party Congress. The agenda and priorities would be set by the members themselves. The support of, and the influence of, the executive on the legislature would depend on the issue, and members would look more to their constituents.
Wouldn't this hypothetical be better than our current blocked-up, overly centralized and presidential-focused system?
The argument that nothing would get done is usually predicated on the example of Italy. But in a presidential system such as ours, only one party controls the executive, and the legislative process could even function more smoothly in a multi-party environment with less hypocrisy, obstinacy and corruption. Parties that did not negotiate would soon find themselves on the outside looking in. And because we have a presidential rather than a parliamentary system, the stability of the government would not be threatened, but instead be enhanced.