PvO has an article in The Australian supporting Trump – specifically supporting Trump’s mandate to build a wall between the US and Mexico.
I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as Donald Trump’s biggest supporter, which makes writing this piece harder than usual. But if ever an American president had a mandate for a policy, surely it is Trump’s plan to build a wall across the border with Mexico.
To be fair – PvO is being consistent here. We do hear a lot about “mandate” especially when politicians have the high moral ground i.e. a mandate. But I am becoming less convinced.
Liberal democracies tend to have political mechanisms that divide and separate political power and decision making. That means that there are multiple mandates. Sure Trump has a “mandate” to build the wall. But … that mandate does not extend so far as to force the Congress to vote the money to build that wall. (In any event, as I recall the Mexicans were going to pay for the wall – but I digress). Trump has to convince the Congress to appropriate funds for the purposes of building the wall. To that end he needs to convince, coerce, pay-off, threaten, bribe, log-roll, whatever it takes to get the votes in the Congress. I’m sure many people would find this to be distasteful and vulgar and inappropriate etc. Yet that is precisely how our system of government is designed to operate.
The executive administers legislation and proposes money bills and the legislature votes on those bills. This is less obvious in Australia (and other Westminster style parliaments) where the majority party in the lower house also nominates the executive. Here in Australia we often have the executive railing against the upper house (unrepresentative swill and the like). In the US that charge is clearly nonsense – the House and the Senate are very clearly and distinctly different from the executive. It is nonsense here too. Admittedly it is annoying from time to time but it is a safeguard built into our political system.
We are all better off because the executive cannot simply force the legislature to pass legislation – especially money bills. Only the electorate can do so via a election.