If America imported this one particular thing from the UK, it would change presidential politics forever. I’m certainly not one to care who the current American Ceasar is or who the next one will be. Although I proudly supported and voted for Dr. Paul in the 2012 primary, I haven’t voted in the general election for president since 2008, and I don’t plan on ever voting for any federal politician again for the rest of my life. The less attention we all pay to Washington DC, the better.
Even though I won’t be bothered to check a box next to the lesser of two evils to elect the new Narcissist-in-Chief, I have to admit, while living in the UK for the past couple of months, there’s one feature that I really wish the United States would import from their former rulers, if only for its entertainment value: Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs). Members of Parliament (“MPs”, similar to Congressman in the US) get to ask the Prime Minister (“PM”, similar to the US president) questions for at least 30 minutes every Wednesday that Parliament is in session.
Unlike the US House or Senate – in which politicians can ask dumb questions, like asking a general if he thinks an island can tip over, while other politicians give amazing speeches to a mostly empty room – the UK Parliament can get quite loud, rowdy, and chaotic. Name calling, shouting, and belittlement happens quite frequently. It’s not for the timid, as this guy found out. The atmosphere can get so insane, some MPs stopped attending PMQs.
George H. W. Bush once commented about PMQs saying, “I count my blessings for the fact I don’t have to go into that pit that [Prime Minister] John Major stands in, nose-to-nose with the opposition, all yelling at each other.”
On the other hand, at times, some MPs and PMs use funny one-liners that create this atmosphere where politicians take jabs at each other with a smile.
Before visiting the UK, as many times as I’d seen clips of PMs answering questions from MPs, I had no idea how often this occurs. The regularity of PMQs has produced many famous video clips. Two of the most famous would have to be Margaret Thatcher’s explanation of socialism or her resistance to handing over UK sovereignty.
It’s such a popular event, UK citizens have to ask their MP for tickets at least six months in advance! It’s no joke. PMQ tickets are as hot as UFC tickets, but with slightly less blood at the event, of course.
Can you imagine how it’d be if Trump, Obama, Bush, or any other American president had to do a President’s Question Time (“PQs”) with Congress? Would it be a raucous circus like in the UK, or would there be pressure to ‘play nice’?
Consider how easy US presidents have had it. The last four of them have averaged about two press conferences/month. Now, consider that the lapdog media in the US goes a lot easier on any president than the opposition party ever would, and we can start to see how different PQs would look as opposed to the current press conference system. For example, you’d never watch an American press conference and see a journalist throw a shoe at a president for killing a half million people.
Every now and then, you’ll get a journalist who’ll ask a tough question at White House press conferences. Like the time when George W. Bush feared journalist Helen Thomas so much, he didn’t allow her to ask him a question at his press conferences for three straight years. Then, when he finally called on her, she famously said, “you’re going to be sorry”, asked him why he really sent the military to war in Iraq, and the world watched him clumsily dance around the question.
Another time a journalist asked tough questions of a president was when Ben Swann grilled Barack Obama on the NDAA, indefinite detention, the war in Syria, the war in Afghanistan, and Obama having a list of Americans that he’d like to murder without a trial.
Still, seeing any Caesar getting grilled by his opponents once/week would be a welcome change to the current press conference system, which goes something like this: if you’re a media hack for enough years, you’re allowed into the room, and even then, the president may never call on you for years.
Alas, we’ll probably never get to see an entertaining event such as President’s Question Time in America. Oh well, at least we can still have State of the Union drinking games.
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