Bring Heckling to the Colonies!
In a brief aside about the Joe Wilson “Liar!” comment, Matthew Yglesias writes:
Personally, I sort of liked Rep Joe Wilson’s idea of introducing British-style heckling to the halls of congress; totally disrespectful and out of step with American tradition, true, but their tradition is better.
I agree with this sentiment. I spent many a night in college staying up late to watch the House of Commons on C-Span because the style of Parliamentary debate in Britain is far superior than Congressional “debates,” which mostly involve Congresspersons speaking to an empty chamber.
I would also love to adopt the British custom of “Question Time,” where the Prime Minister engages head on with members of Parliament to our system, too. Sure, given the nature of institutions here, it probably isn’t practical to have the President address Congress every week, but how about once a quarter?
Frankly, a more rough and tumble style of debate would be good for Congress. It would shake things up, require more interaction, and require Congresspersons to think about issues beyond mere campaign positioning. Confession is good for the soul, and debate is good for the mind. It would improve politics all around.