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The Two-Legislature Solution – A Little Background

The purpose of this Blog and all of its posts will be to explore the idea of the Two-Legislature Solution.  I encourage and appreciate comments and discussion and will try to explain how this alternative is like and unlike other proposed solutions in subsequent posts.

This idea came to me originally in 2015/16 when I was a Congressional Fellow in the office of Congressperson Alcee L. Hastings in Washington, DC. After a long career in engineering, I applied for and won the fellowship through my professional organization, the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME) who arranged it through a program operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  As part of the fellowship, we were obligated to study how Congress works and received lectures on this and Congress’s origins.

One of my most treasured memories of the Fellowship was a lecture by Judy Schneider, Specialist on the Congress from the Congressional Research Service which is a part of the Library of Congress.  Ms. Schneider was for many years one of the main lecturers to incoming legislators and staff members about how the Congress works.  During that lecture she disabused us of several ideas we may have come in believing.  In particular she asked us whether we believed that the purpose of the Congress is to make laws. After receiving concurrence from the room, she proceeded to tell us it is not.  She told us instead that the purpose of the Congress is to not make bad laws.

She went on to inform us that during each two-year Congress (the term of office for the House of Representatives being two years), about 10,000 bills are introduced (about 8,000 in the House and 2,000 in the Senate).  Of these, approximately 200 pass and most of those deal with the annual budgets.  It is only when sufficient popular support is available in both houses that a bill gets passed and on average it takes seven years for a bill to become law.

In this she was summarizing the words of James Madison in the Federalist Papers, No. 62, where he wrote, “Another advantage accruing from this ingredient in the constitution of the senate, is the additional impediment it must prove against improper acts of legislation. No law or resolution can now be passed without the concurrence first of a majority of the people [i.e. the House], and then of a majority of the states [i.e. the Senate].”

The idea of a bicameral (two house) legislature is not unusual.  Bicameral legislatures exist in about 40 percent of democracies across the world.  In America, what is known as the “Great Compromise” balanced the power of the States with small areas and/or populations against that of those with large areas and populations.  This inspired me to consider that a similar balancing based on ethnicity in Israel-Palestine should be possible.  From this perspective, there would be no greater assurance for both Jews and Palestinians that no future government could bring state sanctioned persecution against either group than creation of a bicameral legislature.

This conclusion made me ask where the framers of our Constitution got the idea in the first place. Which then led me to investigate the British system and how there came to be a bicameral legislature there.  Researching the origins of the House of Lords and the House of Commons opened up an amazing historical analogy to the current situation in Israel-Palestine which I will address in detail in a future post.

In thinking this through in my engineer’s mind, I concluded it was a good idea but since it was so obvious it must have been considered and rejected for good reason over the past 75 years of the conflict.  So, I put the idea away until about three years ago when I decided to see why this idea of a Two-Legislature Solution had been rejected.

I put together a short white paper explaining the concept and began sending it to experts in the field from all sides of the issue.  I sent it to over 50 pundits, politicians, professors, diplomats, religious leaders, activists, members of the press, and military experts. Of those who courteously responded, none were ready to adopt the concept outright, however all agreed that it was something they had not seen before.

And so, this Blog.

About the Author
Mr. Ashley is a Mining Engineer with 36 years of experience in the mining industry. He holds a B.S. in Mining Engineering, an M.S. in Mining Engineering (Geostatistics), and an MBA. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Nevada (Retired). He has worked on evaluation and development of more than 50 mining projects located in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Suriname, Thailand and the USA, involving commodities as diverse as aluminum (including bauxite and alumina), coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, kaolin, lignite, nickel, oil shale, potash, silver, uranium and zinc. Since his retirement he has dedicated his life to supporting causes that promote sustainable peace and development for all and working within his community to support democracy and good government doing such things as working on the Civil Grand Jury in his County and working as a Poll Worker and Trainer of Poll Workers.
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