Checks and balances are dead

The theory that the US government is limited by checks and balances depends on each branch of government wanting power. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore:

And this, it seems to me, is the real story of presidential power over warmaking. It’s not so much that we have executive branch power grabs as it is that congress pretty consistently fails to use the leverage that it actually has.

I think this is probably a failure of democracy. If Congressmen do nothing to start and stop wars, they don’t have to be responsible for the outcomes. If something bad happens in the war, they can blame the other guy. If something good happens they can take part of the credit. Democracy disincentives responsibility and therefore good government.

3 Responses to Checks and balances are dead

  1. Eumaios says:

    Someone around these parts once said “Democracy is a system for obfuscating responsibilty”, or something close. I wish I could remember who.

  2. josh says:

    The checks and balance thing was a holdover from the colonial period where factions were organized around the royally appointed governors and the colonial legislatures respectively. According to Sydney George Fisher, one of the main causes of the revolution was the legislature losing the power to control the governors salary, which they had always used to purchase favorable laws. During the revolution, the legislature faction in many colonies became Patriots, while the gubernatorial faction became loyalists. The constitution really was a reactionary document, trying to return to the status quo ante after years of parliamentary supremacy.

    Anyway, checks and balances ceased to operate as planned as soon as trans-branch factions aka political parties emerged. This is a failure of democracy.

    • Foseti says:

      I love the fact that I have commenters who reference Sydney George Fisher. I think you’re right, but it is interesting to see liberals basically admitting that checks and balances are dead without drawing the obvious conclusions from such observations.

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