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Who Would Win In A Fight: Parliament Or The U.S. Congress?

21/09/2017 13:02

Who would win in a fight, the U.S. Congress or UK Parliament? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Paul Mainwood:

Let's assume that they do not have any weapons, and we're talking about a fist fight.

I would guess that the main variables will be as follows.

  1. Overall numbers
  2. The physical condition and fighting ability of individual members
  3. Their ability to work as a team

1) Numbers

In both cases, we'll consider only full members of the bicameral legislatures, ignoring support staff, aides, political advisers and so on. These people exist and have a great deal of influence in both systems, but they are not usually counted as members of either Congress or Parliament.

You might expect that the US, being as it is, a country of around 300 million people, would have more representatives at the national level than the UK, of only 65 million.

But you'd be wrong. Congress has 441 members from the House of Representatives (including non-voting members) and 100 Senators. So they will have 541 fighters altogether.

The UK Parliament has 650 MPs and 799 sitting Lords. Those numbers are nuts, but it's what a couple of thousand of messy years of constitutional history (plus a relative weakness of regional representation) gets you.

So before anything else is taken into account, we are setting a force of 541 against 1,449. A nearly 3:1 numerical superiority in favour of the UK.

2) Fighting ability

There are a variety of things to look at.

Both systems include a good number of ex-servicemen and women, who will naturally have an advantage in that they tend to be both physically fit, and to have been trained in hand-to-hand combat. By a rough look, this share seems to be slightly higher in the US than the UK, but not by much.

Both systems are male-dominated, but the US more so (US Congress has around 17% women, whereas the UK Parliament has 24%). All other things being equal, men tend to be physically stronger, so one might expect this to hand the US a slight edge.

But I feel the most relevant variable is age. Both systems end up selecting a set of members who are -- well -- not of the age you'd want supporting you in a fist-fight.

In the US, the average age in the House of Representatives is 57, and Senators have an average age of 61. Weighting these the make-up of the Houses, gives you an average age of 58 or so.

In the UK, it's worse. The average age of the House of Lords is 69. The Commons does a lot better and ends up with around 50. But the Commons is smaller, so this gives an average age overall of 61.

This additional three years of age is another significant disadvantage for the Brits.

Finally, should we completely write off the 26 bishops in the UK House of Lords? As men of God, they should not really be engaging in violence after all. I don't think so, at least not completely. For historically, the prohibitions on clergy engaging in violence has been seen less as a rule than ... a rough guideline. I think some bishops will fight, and others not.

So, overall, the Brits have lost a little ground here, but there's nothing yet to compare with their starting numerical advantage.

3) Ability to work as a team

Is there any doubt that either side would be able to fight together effectively?

I cannot think of anything significant on the US side. Bipartisan splits are vast and getting vaster, but at times of war, such differences do tend to be put aside. And given the cross-party respect for the military, I would guess that they would quickly put themselves under the control of those with military experience -- there are plenty from the Army (e.g., Jack Reed, 82nd Airborne) and the more relevant parts of the Navy (e.g., Ryan Zinke, SEAL) who you'd bet on to pull their weight and lead.

On the British side, the same applies: as well as the many Generals who sit in the Lords, I'd look to Jonny Mercer MP (29th Commando Regiment) to make a good field commander. However, there's a small but significant exception. The seven Sinn Fein MPs may be well able to handle themselves in a fight, but I'd not be totally sure of them throwing themselves into a fight on the side of The Lords of the UK and Northern Ireland. In fact, I suspect they might see this as a superb opportunity to fight against them, and come in on the US side.

Others? A few: one or two Green and cross-bench peers may recuse themselves as pacifists, and we've already talked about the Bishops. But I think all of these would declare themselves neutral rather than switch sides.

So taking these factors into account, you might end up with roughly 548 or so on the US side, slightly younger, and slightly more male, versus 1,430 or so on the UK side, slightly older and slightly more female.

Sorry, I still think those numbers will tell, and it'd be a clear victory for the UK Parliament.

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