Monday, March 15, 2010

Why We Have Three Branches of Government

The whole healthcare debate rages on, and we may see the conclusion this week. Debate can be a good thing. It often allows the free exchange of ideas, especially if those ideas are placed accurately into the market of free thinking. Then others can join in and endeavor to understand the issues, make points, and perhaps vote their wishes through an elected, representative government.

So, what exactly is in the 2,700 page healthcare bill? The truth is – no single person knows. President Obama doesn’t know entirely what all those words add up to, nor do Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. It was written in a hurry by many, many people, and I don’t see that a great effort has been made to reconcile those pages against each other, or even to boil down what is in there for the purposes of public consumption. The politicians pushing the bill just want a vote on it, and soon. Their vote cannot be made in a wise or knowledgeable way – our senators and representatives cannot know all of the implications or mandates in those 2,400 pages unless they read and study it. None of them has confessed to doing so – so their vote would have to be cast in ignorance. Is that good government?

The issue that bothers me most in this debate is the push being made by the executive branch (the office of the President) to ram this legislation through, with a blatant disregard for balance. While the majority of the American people are now polled as being against the healthcare legislation, the President continues to push for its passage.

He has the right to push for what he believes in - really. But he is also pressing Congress for a “nuclear option” – to pass the bill through the reconciliation process (I won’t cover that process here – suffice it to say the process exists as a little “trickery” to pass legislation with a 50+% vote, accompanied by a promise to change the bill at a later date.) Those future changes promised by the reconciliation process are not guaranteed, hence, the Stupak coalition and the possibility that a distaste for abortion may actually be the death-knell for this bill.

Even more disturbing is a process being discussed called the “Slaughter solution”. Under this scheme, Democratic leaders will pass the bill by simply “deeming” the Senate bill passed in the House - without an actual vote by members of the House. Yes, it’s for real – the Democratic House Rules committee chairwoman is advising on this possibility. Oh, by the way, her name is Louise Slaughter. Ironic, isn’t it?

And this brings me to my point. Our founding fathers designed our current system of government to have three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. Checks and balances were created between the three to prevent any one branch from “taking over”. It’s a wise system – created by men who saw how a monarch could seize power and govern at his whim. As journalist Bill Whittle recently said,

The modern Tea Party movement is made up of people peacefully protesting tax rates that, taken in total, approach half of all of their income; protesting the takeover by unelected czars of entire sectors of the economy; protesting the drunken orgy of spending not only the present wealth of the nation but the wealth of our children and our children’s children; protesting waste on a scale where a billion dollars – one thousand million dollars – is essentially undetectable, a rounding error… all of that, which its critics decry as mouth breathing paranoia… while the founders, enshrined in the mural surrounding these documents and which these same critics claim to revere – these founders, the greatest minds ever assembled in one place in the history of the world – took their country to war against the greatest military force on the planet because of a one-cent tax on tea.

Think about that! Forget the penny tax! It was never about the tax. It was about the idea of being ruled by people who cared not a whit about your lives but who only saw you as a source of revenue for their own grand ideas.

The why of America – when it’s all said and done – is simply this: we will be governed with our consent, but we will not be ruled.

Does that remind you of anything? For the full text of Whittle’s excellent article, read here.

I am trusting that the founders’ vision will result in a good outcome. If the executive branch twists the arm of the legislative branch to push through harmful, financially unsound, and unpopular legislation, there is always the possibility that the judicial branch will step in to intervene. And ultimately, there is always the possibility of the people of this nation rising up with a little “revolution” on their minds, right?