The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Checks and Balances

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Photo by Aaron Kittredge on

I wrote this almost two years ago. Read and consider in the context of what has transpired over the past two years.

As of this writing, it looks like we may have a divided government yet again. While one party may take one chamber and the presidency, it does not appear that one party is going to take all three. And this should be a sigh a relief for Americans…no matter your party affiliation.

If there’s one constant in the U.S., it’s contention. There is always contention in the United States. There’s contention among legislators, between states and the federal government, between state governments and local governments, between the three branches of government and within the three branches of government. This is what keeps our government from doing anything, extreme or not, too fast.

It’s a beautiful, and under appreciated, part of the American political machine.

So, it appears that, the House, the Senate and the Executive will again be split by the parties. The Constitution made way for this for a reason, an important reason.

Take a look at Madison’s explanation:

the us capitol building under cloudy blue sky

“In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates. The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions. As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified.”

In other words, Congress was created to be so powerful that the founders were compelled to break Congress in half, so as to prevent “dangerous encroachments” and potential abuse.

Alas, leaving this election with a divided government is a gift. It will make the work very difficult for anyone who wants to move something through Congress swiftly, emotionally or irrationally.

Amidst the confusion, anger, angst, contention and lack of clarity surrounding this election, take solace in this reality friends. I’m sure you’ve been through the emotional ringer these past few days specifically, but this whole year, really.

Time to sit back and take a moment. Recognize the brilliance of our founders and take time to do something you maybe haven’t done over the past few days: smile.

The election, or the first chunk of it, is over. We can breathe now. It may not have gone exactly how everyone hoped it would go…but, no matter what the final outcome, the checks and balances still hold strong.

And that my friends, is a gift.

The Liberty Belle

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