Checks and Balances

By: Eddie Clements

Following a meeting at the White House on the new massive spending package one day last week, some members of Congress were met by the media. After Senate Majority Leader Harry “Speed” Reid’s group was walking away, one more question was tossed out, “Can Republicans stop this?” A definitive “No!” was cast over his shoulder like an epithet. The group continued on its way, unperturbed by the possibility that a minority of Senators might put some brakes on the wishes of determined Democrat speeding toward despotism.

The U.S. Constitution originally held compromises, but still reflected the genius of the Founding Fathers. This was a group of men having integrity, honesty, wisdom earned by the practice of carving a living out of a newly discovered world, and a sense of responsibility resulting from the gravity of their task. One could say this great task of establishing a fundamental document starting a monumental experiment in democracy was nothing less than inspired. Though mere men installed the words, the prescriptions for power of men over other men must have been influenced heavily by God.

Power wielded by its holders, like kings, over groups of people has proven to create problems throughout history – especially if you were one of those subject to ill treatment from caprice rather than justice. The ingenious formulation to justify power in one man was expressed by “the Divine right of kings”, which for religious people stopped opposition to the king in its tracks. The well-considered approach to damping down such power was the even more ingenious three-branch system of executive, legislative, and judicial, called checks and balances. While it may not be a perfect system, the freedom and consistency the Constitution provided was good enough to propel America to previously unimaginable heights of prosperity and equality for all.

Originally, one purpose of checks and balances was to prevent any one branch of government from becoming too powerful. Aggrandizing more power to one’s self, or one’s group, is natural and anticipated by the Founders. The checks to natural acts of selfishness were applied by balancing this tendency with competing forces. Such was necessary to limit government from stifling freedom, with provisions reserving rights to “the people” not specifically enumerated to branches of government in the Constitution.

Now it appears that system may be breaking down, but not because the system itself is flawed. Instead of a struggle for power between the three branches, one against another, that would consume their energies and constrain any one branch’s attempt at undue influence on the civic body, all three branches are on the same page, and it could be called a rampage toward change. That change will exert pressure on all by turning nature on its head. It proclaims selfishness as “unpatriotic” under the new paradigm for federal government. The new liberal (read: Democrat) paradigm is that government forces services or influences on the people whether desired or not. Such a philosophy reduces choices, inhibiting freedom, not enhancing it. “Unity” and service to others are concepts at the heart of The Communist Manifesto. “Working together, we can make this country even greater” substitutes neatly for Karl Marx’ vision of a “worker’s paradise”. But that was supposed to come about through social evolution as much as revolution. Put into practice under the label Communism, the Russian nightmare became forced collectivism, because … not everyone wanted what Lenin and Stalin wanted. Resistance was quashed by exile or murder. This is what people with absolute power over others do.

What happens to rights reserved to the people, however, when all three branches become too powerful together? That is the situation the nation faces now, with far too many liberal judges in the judiciary, a Democrat President with a socialist agenda, and Congressional majorities of Democrats in both houses. Ordinary, unremarkable men and women of America, inspired to do remarkable things since the country’s inception and creating a stunning legacy, are on the verge of being judged by elitists that they have not done enough quickly enough.

Recall many Bush appointees to the judiciary were blocked by Senate Democrats when they were in the minority. Democrats just didn’t want conservatives in position to interpret law faithfully. The Democrat playbook calls for imposition of their agenda on the whole population, though sizeable numbers of people don’t want this or that imposed upon them. The time-honored tradition of writing to your Congressman to forestall unwanted actions has been usurped. We have traditionally found out about proposed actions through media reporting, the free press. Liberal mania has co-opted the press. Now, the media is biased in favor of the very agenda Democrats favor but the people may not want, such as universal health care or repeal of the Second Amendment. So, the media presents liberal programs as beneficial, a subjective assessment presented as objective truth. There is more marketing than actual analysis. People who write letters to Congressmen opposing the liberal agenda are marginalized and downplayed by the press, which should just be reporting the incidents. The liberal press has morphed reporting into opinion, once reserved for the editorial page.

For example, what would be the large-scale effects of taking away the right to bear arms? The press has only told this tale through examples of gun violence and how harmful it is, so wouldn’t it be better if there were no guns? If it were made so, then truly only outlaws will have guns. We will be unable to defend ourselves in our homes; might as well repeal all the laws against burglary. It has been shown that crime rates plummet everywhere citizen gun-carry permits have increased. Should we be required to surrender all guns, this will fall on the law-abiding only, since criminals by definition do not obey law. They will keep their guns, increasing gang violence and robberies everywhere.

Universal health care sounds good, especially if it is “free”. But government health care will distort the market for supply and demand of medical services, even more than Medicare and Medicaid have proven to do. Young people generally need only minimal health care services. Will elective surgeries be allowed? Surely there will be lawsuits as to what will be defined as elective, consuming court resources. Health care throughout the nation may be flawed, but a legislative prescription will do the patient more harm than good.

The above examples are among many items. An exhaustive and exhausting list of changes about to come could be examined one by one for their potential deleterious effects, but the overarching problem cannot be enumerated by the details. The real problem is one party rule by an irresponsible political party. Serious reflection has forced the conclusion that monumental hubris, a complete and utter lack of humility, has caused the problem.

Say what one will about President Bush, he is one President, among others, who took the job with humility as a solemn responsibility. The current President is marked by a consuming arrogance, described by many observers as confidence. The arrogance expressed by Senator Reid gives further evidence of the problem. How one can have the complete confidence that one set of solutions must be imposed on all without regard to negotiation and compromise goes to the heart of looming complications. Democrats have no intention of even listening to the Republican minority on any issue. Democrats didn’t mind obstructing President Bush’s appointees, but woe unto the Republican that shows the “audacity of hope” to return the favor. They will feel the full arrogance of Democrat power, as will we all.

All too many Democrats are consumed with the lure of power. The idea of the citizen-legislator has been replaced by career politicians totally out of touch with their constituents needs. For years, they have demonstrated through their actions that they regard voters with contempt, now showing the same for checks and balances which have served the nation just fine for centuries.

But our current dilemma is not about the ideals our Founders set forth in the Constitution, no matter how it is presented. It is about the acquisition and abuse of raw, naked, ugly power. We must pray for Divine guidance, but work diligently to get ourselves out of the mess we put ourselves into. Despotism is just around the corner as long as good men continue to stand by and say nothing.

Eddie Clements

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