Friday, May 06, 2005

 

Should the Democrats form a "Shadow Cabinet"?

Looking at the British general election, I was struck by the fact that several junior ministers lost their seats. Unless they can find some junior member with a relatively safe seat to step down and let them stand for reelection to Parliament in a by-election, they will lose their positions in government.

Also, one Conservative "shadow minister" lost his seat.

It got me thinking. Being in the official Opposition in any country with a parliamentary system is very close to having an official job. The Leader of the Opposition in the British parliament gets a salary and a staff. He (or she) is a member of the Privy Council and thus entitled to be called "The Right Honourable."
There's not quite a similar system here. The minority leaders in the House and Senate are official positions with a staff, but we have no equivalent to a "shadow cabinet."

Why not? Yes, it would be difficult to figure out who appointed whom, but if the Democrats could get their act together and appoint, say, a "shadow" Secretary of State and a "shadow" Secretary of Defense a "shadow" Secretary of the Treasury" and a "shadow" Secretary of Education, a "shadow" Secetary of the Interior," Democrats of stature and expertise, with political and communication skills, standing of their own, and had these people meet regularly and issue frequent critiques of the Bush administrations countless mistakes along with precise policy alternatives of their own, it would give the Democrats a coherence they currently lack. The critical mass of such an impressive collection of designated spokespeople would have to attract considerable media attention.

The idea would not be to have a "government in waiting" for the next time a Democratic president got to appoint a real cabinet. Nobody tells a president in advance who is going to be in his cabinet, especially when we don't even know who's going to run in 2008. But even in a parliamentary system, not every "shadow minister" moves into office if and when his party takes over. The idea is simply to give the Democrats some focus during their years in exile. To remind the public that there really is a true Democratic Party, not just a bunch of elected officials, state committees, and desperate bloggers.

Again, it would not be easy to bring this about. The Republicans would deride it and some of the press would follow their corporate masters' orders and scoff at it. But I think it would be very useful; worth exploring, at least. Tell me why not.
Comments:
Not a bad idea at all. I see no reason why not.... it's not like this is even something you'd need a whole lot of money to do.
 
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Comments: "
Not a bad idea at all. I see no reason why not.... it's not like this is even something you'd need a whole lot of money to do.
 
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