The idea behind the US government is that the three branches are supposed to act as checks and balances on each other to ensure that no one branch
amasses too much power or abuses its authority. Supposedly the three branches are to act as competing entities, working at cross purposes from each
other thus ensuring that all policies are thoroughly debated and all sides are looked at before any new policy is passed into law in America.
The two houses of congress were meant to represent the people (the House) and the states (the Senate) respectively but, the states were taken out of
the mix with the amendment calling for the direct election of senators thus giving all power to the people who tend to be easily swayed by demagogues
who prey upon their emotions, rather than their intellect.
The two party system, while giving the appearance of a jealous opposition along
ideological lines has a strange tendency to come together on the really big issues that hurt the common people the most such as NDAA, the Patriot Act,
the Bush tax cuts and the complete failure to impose any types of control or regulations on the financial industry after it wrecked the economy. Many
believe the partisan bickering is just a show they put on to distract the masses from the fact that they are really working together for a common
The Supreme Court, supposedly the people's last line of defense against government abuse has shown an increasing tendency to favor corporate entities
over the will of the people. Sure, they allow the people to fight and bicker over silly social issues such as gay marriage and abortion but, when the
corporations come a calling, they all seem to bow to their corporate masters, just as do all the other branches of government.
The president is just a figurehead anymore who sometimes threatens to veto unpopular or dangerous legislation but, never can seem to work up the nerve
to deny his corporate masters their every desire.
On top of all this is the massive bureaucracy, unaccountable to anyone and with the power to regulate every aspect of the American's lives.
Is the government too big for checks and balances?
The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is not
just bigger, it is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an
administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency. … The fourth branch now
has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all other branches combined.
The author of this particular article argues that this is not true saying the various branches of the government don't hesitate to challenge each
other's authority and advocacy groups fill in the gaps by bringing court challenges to unpopular laws.
The answers to some of these questions, of course, are that America’s polarized political system generates at least skepticism and sometimes
even hostility to this or that government program or event. But that is not the complete answer.
If there is one common denominator in each of these questions, it is that a check or balance, theoretically available within the structure of
government, gets energized in the practical world by some lawyer or some advocacy group. If America now operates in the shadow of a huge
administrative state, that is matched by a nearly-as-large lobbying and advocacy community.
The civic gladiators who now make the system of checks and balances actually work are energetic; they have money and talent; and they have every
incentive to keep an eye on what the national government does. And it may sometimes be forgotten, they have a constitutional right to do just that:
the First Amendment guarantees them a “right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
While to some extent, what the author says is true, it seems that on the really big issues, such as bank regulations and our foreign policy serving
the interests of the military industrial complex and the big corporations bent on sucking the wealth from occupied nations, all the challenges and
court cases seem to come to naught.
It seems to me that all of this challenging and bickering among the parties and issue advocacy groups is nothing but show theater to give the illusion
of an effective set of checks and balances, all the while the engine of big government and corporate control chugs along unopposed while we are
distracted by the partisan bickering.
Is this country's system of checks and balances effective anymore or have we come to the point that our government is just too big to control?