Question: "Resolved, That assuming the adoption of adequate constitutional amendments the United States should institute a system of responsible cabinet government."
Brief for the Affirmative.R. E. MANLEY '97, and N. B. MARSHALL '97.
Best references: Brice I, ch. 15 and 16. Bagehot's English Constitution, ch. 1 and 2. Woodrow Wilson Congressional Government, ch. 5. Wilson in Overland Monthly III, p. 17, 1884, Story S869-S872. Annals of American Academy of Pol. Science, II, p. 289. Atlantic Monthly, I, p. 95.
Introduction."Cabinet government is government by an executive ministry chosen by the chief magistrate of the nation from the legislative majority; a ministry sitting in the legislature and acting as its executive committee; merely give the cabinet the initiative in legislative and leadership in debate and you have cabinet government." (Wilson).
Brief.I. Cabinet system can not be objected to on the grounds that the framers of the Constitution were opposed to it. A. Could not have adopted it if they had so decided. 1. System was still immature in England. 2. Framers in copying the English constitution did not understand the English form of government. B. Present system due to jealousies of the States toward central government.
II. Present system is defective. A. Leads to bad organization of the House Committee system. a. Destroys the unity of the House as a legislative body. Interest centers in the committees. b. Fate of any measure depends upon the constitution of a particular committee. c. Fate of all measures depends upon the attitude of committees towards them. d. Develops professional lobbyists. x. Committees more easily influenced. e. Bills of public importance delayed. x. Committees monopolize the time. f. Decreases interest of nation in proceedings of Congress. x. All things decided in secrecy of committee room. g. Leads to system of "log-room." h. Prevents collision and harmony of legislation. i. Cramps debate. x. All committees except Ways and Means have but two hours under ten months session to present and debate bills. j. Reduce responsibility. x. House cannot be blamed. 1. Has followed decision of committee. y. Committee cannot be blamed. 1. Members usually too obscure to blame. B. Produces lack of responsibility in all departments of government. 1. Executive and. House frequently of two political parties. 2. Separation of executive and legislative departments. a. Cabinet cannot meet emergencies-financial deficits, etc. b. Departments can obtain legislation only through indirect means-compromises and inducements. C. Leads to an inferior class of statesmen. 1. Statesmanship not a career, as in England. D. Change has already been found necessary. x. Legislative and executive departments have a semi-connection. 1. Consultations and agreements take place between secretaries and leaders in the Houses. y. Important party bills framed in the departments.
III. Proposed Cabinet System best remedy for existing defects. A. Will do away with present committee system. x. Ministers will have initiative in public legislation. y. Private bills will pass through their hands. B. Emergencies can be met by threats of dissolution and resignation. C. Educates the nation. 1. Debates mean something. x. Are thorough and effective. 2. Leads to well-moulded public opinion. x. Politics are full of
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