The system of checks and balances
is intended to create a government that works in a fair way. It evenly divides
power between the three branches of government, ensuring that no one entity has
more say than any other. It aims to prevent what John Adams called “tyranny by
majority,” a scenario in which the decisions made by a majority are so abusive
to minority groups that they could be considered tyrannical or oppressive.
We recently witnessed an application of checks and balances with the 17-day long government shutdown propagated by the Republican Party’s never-ending quest to derail “Obamacare” and the subsequent failure of Congress to pass a budget. In practice, the GOP technically “checked” the executive branch correctly by protesting the president’s healthcare law and its “individual mandate.” However, they broke the government, held the American people hostage and abused the system of checks and balances in the process.
President Barack Obama challenged and scolded conservatives in the wake of the shutdown. He said, “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don’t break it. Don’t break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That’s not being faithful to what this country’s about.”
This quote ignited a firestorm amongst house Republicans who say that the president would rather operate on an idea of pure majority rule, rather than the time tested system of checks and balances. They argue that by shutting down the government in protest of parts of the Affordable Care Act, they were “faithful to what this country’s about” by implementing checks and balances and President Obama has disrespected the system by scolding them for using it. Obama is right though: If conservatives want to change things they need to go win elections, not just cleverly use systems of government.
This country was founded on the concept of democracy. We all have a voice in how we want the country to be run. We elect leaders who we trust to make good decisions, decisions we as individuals would make. The repeated failure of conservatives to repeal, defund or delay the Affordable Care Act shows that at this point in time, the American people have decided that they want the law to stay. The majority of people that we democratically elected to make decisions for us, decided that the law would be beneficial to many more Americans than it would hurt. If there comes a point in time where the American people believe “Obamacare” needs to be changed or repealed, they will vote for the party willing to do so, but that time is not now.
Landon Ochsner is a freshman in pre-journalism and mass communications. Please send all comments to email@example.com