Most people have heard that power corrupts and it isn’t just an old wives tale, power really does corrupt. Knowing that, the founding fathers drew up a Constitutional form of government that included several ways to attempt limiting power and the abuse that comes with it.
They established three branches giving each several ways to override the others. They depended on rivalry and jealousness to create a competition for power between the three branches. They created a bicameral or two house legislature as a means of making law more difficult. They created an independent judicial system that is free of political pressure and serves for life. That judicial system has the power to review law and decide what is or is not permitted by the Constitution. That means the courts can overturn actions by the president and the congress that it finds in violation. The president is the chief enforcer of law and can chose which laws to vigorously enforce or which to pay little attention to. And, of course, the president has the power of veto. All this together is referred to as America’s system of checks and balances and it’s pretty much kept us from autocratic tyranny for two-hundred and forty years.
What we see in today’s political atmosphere, however, is different. Things have drastically been altered, maybe to the point where checks and balances no longer exists. In America we have a divided Supreme Court that will soon become biased towards strong conservatism. We have a president who has displayed autocratic behavior throughout his life and has become even less controllable after winning the White House last November. If you follow the news you know that the president cannot control his hatred for anyone or anything that challenges.
As I write he is again striking out at federal judges because some of them decided the challenges against his authority are worth attention.
Maybe the most dangerous break down is the reluctance of congress to exercise control over the legislature. A very conservative Republican Party holds control in both houses of congress and have shown no desire to go up against the White House. So here’s the scoop. We have a childlike man in the White House who has never been able to accept not getting his own way. Coupled with that the baby sitters or adults in the room are unwilling to say “no” for fear the child will throw a hissy fit and punch them in the eye.
What we Americans have is the perfect recipe for the loss of individual freedom, a lessening of democratic rule, and the increased risk of becoming an autocratic state ruled by a powerful dictator.
Realizing this, millions of Americans have taken to the streets in public protest and millions more are needed. The branches of government must take back the powers that are theirs by the Constitution and they must restore an effective system of checks and balances.