Conservative Colloquium

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Posts Tagged ‘separation of powers’

Government Gridlock is Good

Posted by Tony Listi on March 25, 2008

Every now and then I will hear someone complain that government “doesn’t do anything” or “gets nothing done” or similar such sentiments. Such things are very troubling to me for two reasons: they demonstrate that that person has no idea of what good government looks like AND that that person has no idea of how the federal government was originally intended to (dys)function! My immediate response to such sentiments is always this: Would you rather concentrate all power in one person or one group like the fascists, communists, monarchists, etc. did? Everyone should take delight in government gridlock: it means the system is working!

Though it should be second nature to Americans that decentralized government is good government, many Americans (mostly on the Left) see no danger in centralizing power. They see government as beneficent and benign. They want to remove the dividing lines and checks and balances in order to empower government to be more “compassionate.” Apparently, they have forgotten, chosen to ignore, or never studied history which is literally one big story about the failure of centralized power. They also do not understand economics and the superiority of the free market system.

So many people really have no perspective on how unique the American system of government is, even compared to modern-day parliamentary democracies. At the time of the founding, it was completely unique and radical. When you sit down and read the Constitution objectively, you realize that the genius of the Framers lies not in how they intended the federal govt. to work but in how they intended it NOT to work. What other nation in human history up until that time had purposefully divided its government (and thus its power and authority) into three or more distinct entities? There may have been some city-states in Europe during the Middle Ages that experimented with republican government, but other than that, one would have to go back to the time of the Greek poleis and the Roman Republic to find such decentralized govt. So don’t blame the politicians for gridlock. In fact, don’t blame anyone; take pride in it.

Today there are many countries modeled on the US, but many of the world’s democracies are parliamentary. That means that the separation of powers between the legislative and executive powers is weaker than in the American system, which in turn means that these countries are more unstable and in danger of tyranny through a concentration of power. Whereas the American system is inherently conservative (in the sense that policy changes tend to happen more slowly), European government may often fall prey to popular passions of the time (as historically they did with regard to fascism and now socialism).

The only concern conservatives have with regard to governmental structure is that over the past century or so the Supreme Court has usurped much of the authority of the other two branches. Therefore, what should have been gridlock became judicial fiat. The SCOTUS and federal judiciary in general is now the instrument by which liberalism by-passes the legitimate institutions of government and the constitutional restraints on its power and imposes its ideology upon the masses. Now conservatives are trying to reverse the damage done to the Constitution and our country because of this judicial tyranny. Gridlock with a liberal status quo is unbearable to the conservative. Conservatives must be activists to restore the rule of law. We must put originalists and strict constructionists on the courts and utilize the amendment process.

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Posted in American Culture, American History, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Supreme Court and Federal Judiciary, The Constitution, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »