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Constitutional Polarization: A Critical Review of the U.S. Political System, Josep M. Colomer

Reviewed by Kenneth Janda
 

Constitutional Polarization contains insightful thinking about the functioning of political institutions. It also offers a workable solution to our party system duopoly, acquaints party scholars with an ancient principle in the Catholic philosophy of government, and provokes thought about the effect of foreign wars on domestic politics.

American party politics are polarized, author Josep Colomer contends, because of the separation of the legislative and executive powers in the U.S. Constitution. He argues that its framers misunderstood British government. They sought to emulate “the balance of power” in Britain's constitution by separating the executive and legislative functions, but “[t]here was no ‘mixed regime’ or ‘balance of powers’ in Britain. The pendulum of power had swung to the lower chamber of Parliament” (23). The framers “wrongly inferred that the Monarch was still the chief executive” (24). In truth, the British Cabinet joined the executive and legislative powers in parliament.

The U.S. Constitution separated these powers by electing the president and Congress “by different rules and calendars,” resulting in officials holding “incompatible offices” and relying “on different political supports” (26). “A frequent consequence .

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