The genius of the American system was a multi-layered system of checks and balances. We are seeing that break down.
The level that most people learn about in school is the three branches of government, Executive, Legislative, Judicial. Each branch has ways to counter the actions of the other two. The idea was that if you got a corrupt President then Congress could pass laws to keep him in check, override his veto and even impeach him. The president had the veto, the pardon, nominating power and the daily administration of the laws. The courts could decide what the law meant. Each branch could rein in the others. It slowed things down. Slow working government was created on purpose.
In addition to that you had the three elected sources of power. The House was elected by popular vote. The Senate was elected by the states. The president was elected by a combination of the two. Each nexus looked to a different segment of the country for its base. That was seriously handicapped by the seventeenth amendment which moved the choice of senators from the political leaders of the states to a popular vote.
The level we don’t think about is the federal part of the equation. Keep in mind that we are not a democracy and in a sense we are not a republic. We are a Federal Republic. Notice again the tenth amendment.
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”The original colonies looked at themselves as sovereign nations. They were reluctant to give up that power. That is one reason why the Articles of Confederation did not work. When they signed on to the Constitution power was surrendered, but they still felt they had a say in things. Much of that attitude was beaten down by the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln and the North said, “We are in charge. You will obey.”
We live with that legacy. As I watch the abuse of power going on my attitude has changed.
To be continued...
homo unius libri