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Like Mother, Like Daughter

The Second Continental Congress declared the Thirteen British Colonies in North America as “Free and Independent States” and that “All political connections between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be dissolved. ” The declaration of Independence irrevocably set the United States and her parent state on a divergent path. The two nations are two of the oldest democratic societies in the world, their political systems are as different as apples and oranges but at the end of the day both nations are bulwarks of civil rights.

Ever since the Magna Charta (UK Law database) was forced upon the King of England in 1215, parliament has served as a balance against the tyranny and abuses of the King. Since then civil rights and liberties were deeply imbued in the heart of every Englishman, woe unto the tyrant who steps upon his inalienable rights. In fact it was in defense of these rights that the colonies rebelled against England. “Taxation without representation” was only a rallying cry, even before that the King and Parliament had been passing many oppressive laws that abridged the freedoms of the colonists.

The bill of rights and its many amendments enshrines these rights in the US as effectively as common law does in the UK. Like the UK the US political system has a system of checks and balances. The Congress, The Executive and the Judiciary work hand in hand to ensure that no branch oversteps its powers and tyrannizes the people. Both nations have mature Democracies that run on the two-party system. For the UK there is the Conservative and Labor parties. In both have their specific advocacies which are at times at variance with each other.

The same is true for the Democrats and Republicans in the US there are many issues, such as universal health care, where these two parties do not agree. But they will often collaborate for national progress. Since their separation in 1776 the two governments have developed unique from each other. For example, the chief of state in the United States is a President who is elected for a term of four years. He is the head of the Federal Government and the Executive Branch. Under him are the Fifty State Governors. The Queen is the nominal head of the United Kingdom, she is given much deference and respect.

She is also the nominal head of many other commonwealth realms like New Zealand, Australia and Canada. However, the day-to-day government of UK is headed by a Prime Minister. Unlike the US president who is elected to a definite term, the Prime Minister is elected to a set term like any other member of Parliament but his term as a Prime Minister is subjected to a vote of no-confidence by his peers. As a result a PM is very sensitive to public opinion as his term can be abruptly ended by scandals no matter how apparently minor provided it can draw enough political force to result in his ouster.

Although unlikely, a PM may be elected today and evicted from office tomorrow. A US President can also be impeached, but historically the impeachment process has only been done twice, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, and neither resulted in the removal of the President. Impeachment can only be used for very specific grave offenses and it is all long-winded process even when it is begun. As a result a US President can make unpopular decisions and sleep at night knowing he will still be President the next day.

For example, President Bush has made decisions which are roundly criticized by the American public but he feels are for the good of the nation. But unless he is impeached he is free to make executive decisions like the war in Iraq or the War on Terror. National archives http://www. archives. gov/national-archives-experience/charters/declaration_history. html (last accessed 13 March 08 UK Statute Law Database http://www. statutelaw. gov. uk/content. aspx? activeTextDocId=1517519 (last accessed on 13 March 08)

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