College of Political Knowledge
Subject: American Government
This could be a humorous post on the aftermath of the Christmas season, but sense I have NO sense of humor that I am aware of….it probably is not what this post is about.
A new year and time to examine the government as we know it…..it is obvious that it is not working as well as the founders intended (or is it?)………
In the beginning of this country our forefathers brought forth a unique idea, well to them it was unique, that we should have three (3) branches of government because this would keep any one branch from becoming more powerful than the others and they called it the American “checks and balances”.
But what does this mean? By creating three branches of government, the delegates built a “check and balance” system into the Constitution. This system was built so that no one branch of our government could become too powerful.
Each branch is restrained by the other two in several ways. For example, the president may veto a law passed by Congress. Congress can override that veto with a vote of two-thirds of both houses. Another example is that the Supreme Court may check Congress by declaring a law unconstitutional. The power is balanced by the fact that members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president. Those appointments have to be approved by Congress.
The process goes thusly……..
The system of checks and balances is an important part of the Constitution. With checks and balances, each of the three branches of government can limit the powers of the others. This way, no one branch becomes too powerful. Each branch “checks” the power of the other branches to make sure that the power is balanced between them. How does this system of checks and balances work?
The process of how laws are made (see the following page) is a good example of checks and balances in action. First, the legislative branch introduces and votes on a bill. The bill then goes to the executive branch, where the President decides whether he thinks the bill is good for the country. If so, he signs the bill, and it becomes a law.
If the President does not believe the bill is good for the country, he does not sign it. This is called a veto. But the legislative branch gets another chance. With enough votes, the legislative branch can override the executive branch’s veto, and the bill becomes a law.
Once a law is in place, the people of the country can test it through the court system, which is under the control of the judicial branch. If someone believes a law is unfair, a lawsuit can be filed. Lawyers then make arguments for and against the case, and a judge decides which side has presented the most convincing arguments. The side that loses can choose to appeal to a higher court, and may eventually reach the highest court of all, the Supreme Court.
If the legislative branch does not agree with the way in which the judicial branch has interpreted the law, they can introduce a new piece of legislation, and the process starts all over again.
Now that you have a grip on exactly what the term means…let’s move on to the meat of the subject……
If you stop and think about the subject there is a case to be made that it is time to dump the idea and start fresh…….why on earth would I make such an assertion?
Easy….look at DC today….it is solidly cemented into place by gridlock….each branch is busy covering their own butts for any worthwhile legislation to move forward……and Peter Aldhous agrees with me in a recent article……
– The political gridlock in DC can’t seem to get much worse, and public opinion polls about Congress can’t get much lower. At Medium, Peter Aldhous runs through the usual explanations—partisan media outlets, campaign donations run amok, gerrymandering, to name a few—but he thinks those fed up with the gridlock must ask a more fundamental question regarding the Founding Fathers: That would be “whether a band of eighteenth-century revolutionaries who had just thrown off the yoke of colonialism really have the answers we need for effective government today.” In short, we should think about whether the age of “checks and balances” has run its course, argues Aldhous. He acknowledges it’s a “radical” idea, but allowing the majority party to have its way, at least temporarily, might be the only real solution. That might mean scrapping midterm elections, for example, which often result in a House dedicated solely to undermining the president’s agenda. “Yes, what I’m proposing would mean accepting that sometimes we have to give those whose views we oppose a few years to put their ideas into practice,” he writes. But we’d still be in a democracy, meaning voters can still “vote the bums out” as needed. Click for his full column.
I think no matter which side of the spectrum you decide to reside you can still see the necessity for progress….and at the same time you can see that gridlock is preventing anything worthwhile from getting accomplished……so I ask…..is is time to dump the concept of ‘checks and balances’? Or should we proceed as usual and hope for the best?
You will not be graded on your answers…….whatcha think?