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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 5. May, 7, 1947


The Political Science Society was very fortunate in securing Professor McHenry from the University of Southern California as the guest speaker for its inaugural function. The visitor, who is no stranger to the British Commonwealth, has made an extensive comparative study of political trends in both the United States and the Dominions, and he is at present on sabbatical leave with the object of surveying eleven years of Labour administration in this country.

In his introduction Dean McHenry drew attention to the fundamental differences between the United States and its Presidential system of government and the British Commonwealth, which has adhered to the more efficient and stronger Cabinet system. He outlined the historical basis of the United States constitution based as it is on an essentially 18th century philosophy as advanced by Locke, Montesquieu and Thomas Paine. Checks and balances, and divided sovereignty were to ensure forever the democratic form of government and guard the Republic from autocratic rulers. The South American Republics had on the whole accepted the example set by their big Northern neighbour with the result of Peron and Vargas supremacy in Argentine and Brazil and similar forms of dictatorship in the remaining countries of the Southern half of the Continent. The visitor made no secret of his preference for the British system based on two strong political parties with a responsible Executive sitting inside Parliament. In support of this premise he quoted examples of shortcomings such as a deadlock between the two Houses or Congress, Presidential inability after the defeat of his party in a mid-term election, the lack of Executive control over Civil Service appointments and the still important remains of the Spoil System. In favour of the Presidential system of Government, Dean McHenry contended that Congress is not a merely "rubber-stamp" which like the House merely discusses, but in the end submits to the Government on all important issues of policy due to party discipline and the all-powerful Whips. Congress can override Presidential vetoes and it jealously watches over foreign affairs. The "voice of the people" is forever audible in the lobbies and halls of Congress. (One wonders If Congressman were greatly [unclear: perturbed] or troubled by popular sentiment against the recent Anti-Strike legislation.)