by Bill StuntzSorry to be late to the party, and thanks to TNR for allowing me to participate.
I yield to no one in my contempt for originalism or Madison-worship (I've long wondered why none of my evangelical friends regard this legal movement as idolatrous: It fits the usual definition), and I agree that the federal government is remarkably unproductive. But I don't think the constitutional structure is to blame, and I don't think a parliamentary system would help much. The federal government has done great things in the past--the 35 years beginning with FDR's first inauguration were chock full of them--under the same rules that apply now. What's the source of the problem? I'm not sure. I think ideologically monolithic parties are one possibility: They may make it harder to build the broad coalitions necessary to do big things. Another possibility hits closer to home for me: I think the rise of the Christian right and its identification with one of the two major parties has poisoned politics in deep ways, made all political arguments into battles of good against evil. No legal rule or constitutional amendment can fix that.