The Division of Government and it's Advantage

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Lately, there has been several news headlines regarding the supposed "Constitutional Crisis" regarding the activities of members of the current administration. This has lead to many in the opposing political party to take action against the administration, while those within the administration's party (the current minority) have been very vocal about their opposition.

Now, you may have noticed my quotes around the term "Constitutional Crisis", because it's just a way to get people angry at the events, and mobilize them for the next election. The fact remains that it is not that serious. It's just politics as usual, or I should say it's the two party process as usual. I don't mean to say that as a cliche, but it really is that process that the government was designed to accomplish.

Let's go back in time to 300 B.C. in Rome. The Republic, designed by people who inherently distrusted their government (sound familiar?), had two complete governments that ran parallel to each other. The first was the Oligarchy, or the Senate, with the Consuls, quaestors, and other executives. The second was the Assembly set in place for the commoners and their Tribunes that could halt both governments with a veto. These two governments could both place laws on the books, enforce them, and even contradict each other if necessary (and have in several occasions).

The result was a government that, unless in a state of war, was almost completely ineffectual. Assembly members, Tribunes, Consuls, and even Senators would spend their entire career trying to effect a reform, and have it all come crashing down on them with one tribune's veto. The effect was a very stable society with little change in it's makeup. It took serious rebellion, war, or violence to make anything within Roman society change.

Now, for those of you versed in American History (particularly pre-Civil War), you will probably remember that much of the current Constitution was taken from Roman history, as documented by the Federalist Papers. This leads me to believe that the Founding Fathers of our Constitution were aware that "Checks and Balances" would occasionally mean that government would be brought to a standstill. As such, because it would keep the status quo, the society would continue with their lives to which they have become accustomed.

So, in a sense, this means that any time you have a divided government, it creates a conservative atmosphere where change is held up by partisan politics, bickering, and general politicking on both sides. As such, the general public can forget about the government and go about their daily lives knowing that nothing much is going to change. That is, until there is a true crisis that effects the security and safety of the general populace. But at that point, the politicking stops, and the government moves in the same direction regardless of party.

For an example of this, let's look back to the reforms of the Travel industry after September 11th. I don't recall any single party being in opposition to those reforms. Instead, both parties wanted to try to take it a step further than the other, in order to look more impressive to their constituents back home whom they were professing to protect. In the end, reforms have been put in place, and one can argue that they have been fairly effective (though a bit inconvenient at times for the unprepared).

So what is the point I'm trying to make? At the end of the day, regardless of what actions are taken in the short term against one party to the other, it will all wash out. Divided governments are the ultimate check to an abuse of power, and we shouldn't fear them. Instead it would probably be better for the country if we encouraged divided governments.

Please note that the author is not affiliated with any political party, but rather views politics as a source of entertainment.