Imagine if you will a place where the boundaries between Legislative and Executive where blurred, wrapped, and crossed with the Judicial – a place of sound, a place of fury, and place signifying nothing. You have just stepped off the boat one thousand miles southeast of Florida… somewhere into the Twilight Zone.
Tomorrow, in the semi-autonomous territory and commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a referendum will be held. Imagine if you will in our parallel sister Twilight Zone where odd and bizarre things occur, if president of the United States, decided to hold a nationwide referendum. At stake was the decision to change Congress to a unicameral assembly or change the form of government to a parliamentary system.
Imagine it! NOW!
What do you mean you can’t?
What’s that? You say that the president has only some limited powers over the Legislative Branch? You mean he has veto power, which can be overridden by a 2/3 majority. You say he can set executive policy, govern the military, and write the budget? Well, I guess. Bush has overstepped his bounds on occasion, but even he has not tried to void the Constitution (well, without a good reason… okay, I’ll concede that too… sheesh).
So how would one go about changing the structure of the legislative branch of government?
First, the Congress would have to propose, debate, and vote on the change (2/3 majority in both houses). Next step would be for 3/4 of the states’ legislatures to ratify that change.
I can’t imagine it’s too much different in Puerto Rico, but tomorrow, there is a referendum on changing the legislature from bicameral to unicameral. Huh? Wouldn’t it just be great that if every time the president didn’t like what Congress was doing he could call a nationwide vote and threaten to disband it? What the?
Well the short of it is that in Puerto Rico the governor can’t do it either, but what he can do is propose to spend $4 million tax of tax payers’ money to execute what amounts to a poll. If the people were to favor a unicameral legislature, the next step would be for the legislature to vote on it, then do whatever process is required to amend the Puerto Rican constitution. Oh, yeah, but we have one more step here. All changes to our constitution must be approved by the United States Congress.
The only reason for a vote tomorrow on this issue is pure and simple intimidation of the legislature. It is nothing more than executive branch thuggery. Personally, I couldn’t care less what system the legislature runs. It couldn’t get any worse.
But don’t kid yourself. If anyone votes either yay or nay, it is a vote for the governor, a vote for intimidation, and a waste of money. Don’t for one second think you’re deciding anything. You’re just playing into the governor’s hands, perpetuating the folly, the circus, and furthering our decent into a banana republic.
Ah, but everybody loves a show.