The Speaker of the House of Commons in England, in order to be a more effective presiding officer, always resigns from his or her political party after election to that office.
Although it would be unprecedented, it is worth thinking whether it would be helpful if President Joe Biden, our chief executive, were to resign from the Democratic Party.
Republicans might win majorities in both the Senate and the House next year. With tiny Democratic majorities, Biden is already finding it tough. What if he faces Republican majorities a year from now?
He would then be forced to rely on bipartisan support. But instead of waiting and being forced, he might do better to announce immediately that he won't seek re-election and is resigning from the Democratic Party.
Like the English Speaker, he could no longer be suspected of seeking partisan advantage. It would increase his moral authority to demand that Congress restore previous procedures, abandonment of which has made that body nearly incapable of orderly legislation.
The parties are now represented in Congress nearly equally and neither party is ever likely to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. If voting in Congress continues largely along party lines, that body will remain dysfunctional.
Each party has infighting. Party-line voting enables extreme elements to hold their party hostage by refusing to support legislation not meeting their goals. Biden's recent problems with extreme Democratic progressives, and with self-styled "moderates" like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are well known. Republicans have to contend with Tea Party members.
A non-partisan Biden presidency need not be a precedent for future administrations. But it would allow Congress to pass some bills.
Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who was speaker from 1999 to 2007, began the ruination of the House. Even when a majority of House members would have voted for bills, he refused to allow a vote unless the proposals had majority support within his own party.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has been playing a similar game and pressuring Republicans to vote as a bloc against any Biden proposal.
Until recent decades, party-line voting in Congress was mostly limited to selecting its leaders. Aside from this, legislation tended to be passed by different bi-partisan coalitions knocked together for each specific bill.
As an independent, Biden could demand that both parties in Congress allow their members to vote as they think best on all bills and that Senate and House leaders stop blocking votes on bills that would pass if members were allowed to vote on them.
To enforce his demand, Biden could threaten to veto any legislation lacking some bipartisan support.
Nearly unanimous support from one party would no longer be necessary to enact legislation. If members from both parties could vote as they think best it would reduce the leverage of the extremists in both parties and encourage reasonable legislative compromises.
The recent House passage of the infrastructure bill illustrates my point. Enactment was only possible because support by 13 Republicans canceled out the opposition of 6 Democrats.
Biden's political weakness is due to the fact that many of the votes that brought him to the White House represented votes against Donald Trump rather than enthusiasm for Biden or his policy proposals.
Since there is no national consensus, the best we can do for now is a coalition regime. A president who is not a member of either political party would be an ideal leader for it.
A non-partisan Biden presidency need not be a precedent for future administrations. But it would allow Congress to pass some bills. And it would give Congress some practice at bipartisan work, which might have long-term benefits.
As a senator, Joe Biden worked well with both Democrats and Republicans. As a member of neither party, he could use this experience to be a more effective president, one who can really heal the nation.
There may be a downside to this scenario, but I don't see it.
What do you think?
Paul F. deLespinasse