Winston Churchill described the relationship between the UK and the US as a special relationship. In deed, both countries have had amicable and cordial relationship despite the Atlantic divide. However, key players in the political and legal field have been keen to explore the sharp differences on their political and legal systems.
Differences Between Politics and Law in the US and UK
One of the most profound differences between the two countries is the question of having a constitution or lack of it thereof. On one hand, the US has a very clear constitution just like most countries in the world. Its constitution is so rigid that its almost impossible to change. On the other hand, the UK does not have anything by the name the constitution. On the contrary, it is governed by various constitutional provisions that are scattered in the various parts of the Acts of Parliament. In addition to that, the UK legislature can change any provision with a simple majority.
The political system in the US is characterized by a presidential system and a directly-elected president. However, an American president may find it difficult to push legislation due to a tight opposition and a strong lobby group. For example, president Barrack Obama did not push the healthcare reforms easily. Also, by his own admission, he was frustrated in his efforts to bring about gun laws reforms. On the other hand, the UK has a parliamentary system. The British Prime Minister can easily push legislation due to the fact that he or she has a strong support of the majority in the House of Commons.
In the US, anyone running for office will often want to show his or her record of patriotism. For example, John McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. He was badly wounded and would live in imprisonment for long. When he came back to the US, such deeds of patriotism made him a celebrity of some kind. In the UK, there is a long-held assumption that anyone running for office already has patriotism, both implicit and explicit.
In the US, it is not uncommon to mention God in speeches. For example, the phrases “God Bless America” and “In God We Trust” are common phrases. In the UK, the political landscape does not have any mention of God.
The differences between the UK and the US as far as the political and legal landscape is concerned does not affect the relationship of the duo. However, appreciating that there are major differences (and the likelihood that those differences are there to stay) will lead to a better cooperation and bridging the cultural divide.