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Mid term US elections


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Nov 2, 2008
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leeds england

Can someone explain to an inquisitive Brit why you should have such elections half way through a term of office. And what impact does it have on the USA govt now that the House of Representatives have a majority for the other side.

Apologise for my lack of knowledge of USA politics - but I like to learn.


Can someone explain to an inquisitive Brit why you should have such elections half way through a term of office. And what impact does it have on the USA govt now that the House of Representatives have a majority for the other side.

Apologise for my lack of knowledge of USA politics - but I like to learn.


Dear jon,

We don't have a true parliamentary democracy. We have offices in the two legislative bodies that rotate newly elected officials irrespective to the presidential office.

*Presidents are only elected every 4-years and limited to only two terms. If serving under another earlier President, they come to power do to the earlier President's death. If there are less that 2 years remaining, this can be followed by two additional terms. If more than 2 years remain, then they can only seek reelection one time.

*With 100 Senators(2 per 50 states) get elected for 6-year terms (up to 1/3rd of 100 senators re-elections held apart with 6 year intervals.(translation; House of Lords)

*With 435 House Representatives, they get elected every 2 years.(translation-House of Commons)

Confusing wouldn't you say. Just like the English system of weights and measurements vs. the metric system, we still adhere to this confusing governmental and haphazard mess, irrespective of the current Presidential office holder. I hope you understand us better, now!
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I think you got it... :thumbup:
Jon, there was a lot of concern in the original formation of the government. The states wanted equal representation in Congress. Hence: the Senate. Two senators per state. But the highly populated areas wanted Congressional representation based on number of people and not just land area. Hence: the House where representatives are aportioned based on the population of the state. The law says there will be 435 representatives divided equally among the population. California is our most populated state and it has 53 representatives. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming each have only 1. Legilslation may be introduced in either body but the other must approve it before it becomes law. The entire house is up for election every two years. One third of the senate is elected every two years in order to allow for some continuity in government (thus a senator serves six years.)

Because a senator serves longer it gives him or her a little more time to accumulate power.

The idea of our representative democracy is that the legislative branch makes the law, the executive branch enforces it and the judicial branch interprets it. Where it gets confusing is when public opinion on something like gay marriage makes it unpopular for the legislature to pass a law and the executive branch has nothing to enforce and the judicial branch has to step in and say that our constitution guarantees equality to all citizens. People call this judicial activism and when it happens people scream and yell but soon forget about it and go on as with the Brown decision which desegregated schools. The ability of one branch of government to oversee another is called 'checks and balances.'

Hope that helps.
One day, you must walk me through the maze of parliament and the prime minister. I get so confused when a new government has to be built after a general election. But not now - I'm still trying to figure out what's happened to ours.
Thanks guys, now I have a headache. Rifle, I don't know a lot about the ins and outs of Parliament and the House of Lords except that the maximum amount of time a Govt can spend in power in one session is 5 years although it is generally 4. The House of Lords is an unelected bunch of peers and snobs who, like your Senate, have the ability to stall govt bills being passed. To my knowledge thought, I think if it came to a fight then there is an old law hardly used that the govt could quote to get the bill passed.

Of course, during election time it is the Members of Parliament that have to fight to keep their seats at Westminster, this includes the Prime Minister and his chief ministers who are, after all, just MPs when it comes to an election. As you know this years election resulted in a close call and the only way the winning party - the Conservatives or Tories as we call them - could form any type of effective ruling govt, was to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats - which of course they did.

The coalition have had to make some tough decisions thus far, due to the economic problems we have all had over the last few years. These actions, although necessary are nevertheless proving very unpopular and some of the Lib Dems who had, during their own election campaign, stated many things that they now have to backtrack because the Tories are pushing them through. I personally find it very annoying that the people responsible for the world financial mess that we're in, are still getting large financial awards, whilst the rest of the workers are having to fit the bill, either by paying higher taxes or in a lot of cases, losing their jobs.

It sucks.
I have been amazed at the austerity measures that the British government has been able to pass. All in hopes of reducing the deficit. It remains to be seen how it affects the growth of the overall economy however. Will a lower deficit increase market confidence in the British economy. And boost growth? Or will it slow growth and plunge the British economy into a double dip recession?

I don't think that either party here has the political will to pass the tough budget cutting measures here that are necessary. It will take an economic crisis to do that here. Which may be less than a decade off....at the rate we're going. :001_unsure:
Tampa, I'm not so sure that tough budget measures are always the answer. After all it wasn't tough budget cutting that got us out of the great depression - ask Roosevelt. It wasn.t tough budget cutting measures that got us out of Reaganomics - ask Clinton. And as bad as things look now, we really are not sinking lower, unemployment is not increasing, the financial system is stabilized, manufacturing is stabilized - what's wrong is almost all political - those who want power are so determined to pursue it that they are willing to create unrest by destroying confidence in America's ability to rebuild itself. When the moderates scream foul loud enough they are only arming the radicals with the will to destroy. Not one single Bush truly believed in DADT, but they preached it to gain the vote. Now the truly right is holding the Republican party's feet to the fire. I believe the same is true with the economy. Deep down most of Washington knows that much of the rebuilding from Bush is underway but they can't admit it because it would lose them votes and the Tea Party may well destroy the progress because their radical ideas are almost two centuries out of touch.

Maybe it's just because I'm so old, but I remember when you bought a ten year bond and waited for it to mature. There's no such thing as a ten minute bond. In one way or another we all contributed to the election of Bush and to the profiteering and manipulation that took place. There's no such thing as a two year fix. We should know that, yet we started complaining because there was not an immediate answer to every single problem. We forget that because Obama represented 'us' when we elected him that now he also represents 'them,' too.

I remember a commentator on the old Today show years ago who talked about getting up on election day and looking in the mirror to shave. He said the thought that crossed his mind was that we Americans always tended to support ourselves for president. If we were democrats we voted democratic, if we were liberal we voted liberal,if we were southern we voted southern, if we were Catholic we voted Catholic, if we supported abortion we supported the candidate who also did. He looked in the mirror and thought, "I would make the worst president in the history of the world, so why would I vote for myself for president?" I know that's simplistic and as full of holes as a Rush Limbaugh argument - but there's an element of truth in it that always gives me pause.
I agree Rifle. These problems were not going to be fixed in 2 years. Much as we would have liked for them to have been.
I agree Rifle. These problems were not going to be fixed in 2 years. Much as we would have liked for them to have been.

Thats the problem with terms of office, people think that all the troubles taken over from the previous administration and new ones encountered in the next 4 years are going to be solved - get real they are not. It annoys me though that administrations/govts are so short sighted and only gauge for their term. That is why long term projects such as road building and the environment get shelved because they would not be completed in their office time and therefore would be kinda transparent to the voters.