DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Two Presidents Are Better Than One

In an America seemingly paralyzed by partisan politics and political dysfunction, author and former state legislator David Orentlicher believes he has an idea that could break the gridlock at the national level - the United States should have not one, but 2 presidents, each one coming from a different political party.

"Dysfunction has gotten to the point in Washington where a radical solution is needed," Orentlicher says. "Sometimes, 2 heads really are better than one."

Orentlicher appeared at Politics and Prose recently to outline the ideas contained in his new book Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch. 

The author said his proposals are a combination of his 6 years as an Indiana legislator and his political research.  "I always said I would be bipartisan. But it's very hard to remain above the partisan fray," Orlentlicher contended, a situation that he says is even more difficult in Washington. The reason, he maintains, is that the president and the executive branch of the government have become too powerful.

"There is now all this power to our president and when you give all that power to one person it causes problems.The party out of the White House spends most of its time saying 'let's get the White House' instead of focusing on the country's needs," Orentlicher said.

So what would Orentlicher's proposal look like? Candidates from any political party could run for president. The top 2 vote-getters would then share the office.  Once in office, both presidents would have to sign any executive orders. Positional nominations and other presidential actions such as budget plans would also have to be agreed to.

"Any time there is a decision to be made, it would have to be a joint decision," the author said. "This would make sure to represent the views of more voters, not just half the voters."

Orentlicher says the Founding Fathers were worried about an imperial, king-like presidency. They thought the other 2 branches of government - the legislative and the judicial - could provide a power balance. But that isn't happening, Orentlicker contends. "These checks haven't worked. We have Congress saying here's the power, and the president saying 'thank you, and I'll take that too.' Foreign policy is all executive-driven."

But wouldn't the 2 presidents get involved in the same type of bickering that now bogs down government? "There would be no incentive for them not to agree. They wouldn't have any incentive for conflict," Orentlicher said.

In addition to promoting positive actions, the 2-president system could prevent wrong ones from being put in place, the author contended. "The Iraq War was a bad decision and I'm pretty sure he (George W. Bush) wouldn't have done that if he shared the office with Al Gore," Orentlicher said.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Before he began his talk, Orlentlicher revealed that he might be pre-disposed to sharing because he shared a womb for the 1st 9 months of his life with his twin sister, who was in the book talk audience. So what did his sister think about her brother's presidential plan? "I love my brother," she said. But the plan? "I like to keep my options open," she said with a smile.

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