Any who pay the least amount of attention to politics in America are familiar with the concept of checks and balances. No doubt in school you were taught the importance of checks and balances in the American political system. This was an important concept to the founding fathers as they developed the civil institutions of the United States. Why did the founders find the need for checks and balances to be so important? What were some of the checks and balances that they built into the system? How are those checks and balances working today?
Most of the founding fathers understood the nature of man through the lens of total depravity. They further understood that in the battle between the flesh and the spirit that goes on within the Christian, the flesh prevails all too often. The Secular Humanist has been able to successfully undermine the understanding of the evil nature of man, to the point that polls have indicated that 77% of Evangelical Christians believe the anti-Christian, Secular Humanistic doctrine of the innate goodness of man. If the founders were right there is a real need to place checks and balances on evil men. If, on the other hand, modern humanistic philosophy is right, you need only place well educated people in leadership, and they will order society with good intentions.
The school master to the founders, Dr. John Witherspoon, president of Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey), taught one-fifth of the signers of the Declaration of independence, and the first Continental Congress and one-sixth of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. He taught that governmental powers must be so balanced as to have “an even poise upon the whole, and that there should be a connection between the powers to enable each to be a check on the others.
Therefore the founders set up the executive, legislative and judicial branches in such a manner that they would have primary powers in which they could act, and other powers to block the activity of the other two branches. In creating the three branches they had in mind that the executive had the power of the monarch, the House of Representatives the power of the common man, and the Senate the power of an aristocracy, thus pitting the three major forms of government against each other. They then set up a dual form of government, giving the states sovereignty in most areas, and the federal, or covenantal, government sovereignty over a few specific areas. They created a written document, to limit the powers of each governmental body, and finally they expected a populace, educated in Biblical doctrine to hold their elected officials accountable to the Word of God and the Constitution.
The Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution destroyed the aristocracy that had been built into the constitution, by placing the Senate under the control of the common man. The Federal agencies that have been set up have given the executive branch legislative powers for which there is no authority in the Constitution. The Judicial branch has been given power to legislate by interpreting the Constitution in the philosophies of the day rather than in the spirit of the authors. The States were stripped of all their Constitutional authority by the doctrine of “might makes right” when the North won the War Between the States, and imposed un-Constitutional restrictions on the states through reconstruction.
Today, the only safeguard against tyrannical power is the two party system. Though philosophically the Democrats and Republicans can barely be distinguished, they do still maintain a competitive spirit that causes Republicans to function as a check to Democrat tyranny and the Democrats to function as a check to Republican tyranny. You can thank God for allowing the evil nature of man, because that is the only thing that allows the last safeguard against total tyranny to work. The freedom-loving American can only hope that this anemic system will hold up until Constitutional bounds can be re-set over this government.
By clicking here you will be taken to the Akron Politics and Religion home page where you will find the subscribe button at the top of the page. Click the subscribe button to be alerted each time new content is published. A portion of all proceeds from this page will go to fund scholarships for alternative education.