If there’s one thing we all remember of what we learned in school about the U.S. government, it’s the phrase “checks and balances.” Also, the chuckle we enjoyed when we first heard the name “Millard Fillmore.”
Our Founding Fathers created three branches of government, we were told, so that no body held too much power. The legislative branch balanced out the executive branch. The judicial branch made sure the other two branches stayed in line with the Constitution and that manufacturers of black robes stayed in business.
Unfortunately, there were two things our founding fathers did not foresee:
- A time when citizens would not frequently be asked to provide room and board for soldiers. Obviously, there’s no need for the “quartering of soldiers” when you have AirBNB, so the Founding Fathers wasted an amendment on that one.* The Third Amendment could have been better used for The Right to Wi-Fi.
- A two-party system in which representatives are much more loyal to their parties than to their country. And because our stupid Founding Dads didn’t know that would happen, party loyalty is now destroying this country.
There are no checks when all three branches of government are ruled by the same party** and the members of that party blindly support somebody they once called a “pathological liar,” a “carnival barker,” “the most vulgar person ever to aspire to the presidency,” and “a nut job,” which are all things various Republicans called Donald Trump.***
Also, as we’ve seen during the past eight years, there are no balances when the legislative and executive branches are ruled by different parties and the party with the majority in Congress blindly discards anything coming out of the White House. That’s not balance; it’s blockage.
Those are the only two circumstances that exist in our federal government now: either nothing can get done or everything can get done. Neither situation is healthy.
I know it sounds like I’m railing specifically against Republicans, but that’s only because they’re the ones currently in power. This is a bipartisan problem. The sad fact is that, between blind party loyalty and the influence of lobbyists, we have a Congress without a conscience.
There has been talk over the years about somehow getting lobbyists out of our government, but, for some reason, there hasn’t been a strong movement by our representatives to stop lobbyists from influencing our representatives. I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with money.
So, if we’re not going to do something about the lobbies, how about doing something about the parties? There’s nothing in the Constitution (I don’t think) that dictates a two-party system. There haven’t always been two parties. In fact, the two parties we have now have switched core beliefs more often than professional wrestlers switch from bad guys to good guys. And, really, where can you find a good Whig when you need one?
If parties were abolished, everybody could be an independent. A politician could be fiscally conservative without also having to be socially conservative. Someone could be pro-life without also having to be pro-gun, a combination that makes no sense at all. Voters wouldn’t be able to just check everything in one column; they’d have to know what each candidate was all about, except maybe the guy running for small claims court judge. And our representatives could represent their constituents instead of doing whatever their party leaders told them to do.
I know it’s never going to happen, but we can dream, can’t we?
See you soon.
*The largely forgotten Third Amendment–Quartering of Soldiers–is the least litigated amendment in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court has never even decided a case on the basis of it.
**I’m assuming the Supreme Court will soon fall in line.
***Respectively: Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.