Checks and balances still exist
I am writing in response to Mr. Andrew Gmerek’s opinion column entitled “Handing the keys of the kingdom to the village idiot” (SDN, Nov. 12).I begin by offering a guess/opinion: I think Mr. Gmerek is a Democrat and, probably, a very liberal Democrat. That assumption is the basis for my comments.Mr. Gmerek asserts, “The American voter destroyed the whole concept of checks and balances.” I am certain that Mr. Gmerek has enough familiarity with the Constitution of the United States that he does not actually mean this literally. The last time I read the Constitution of the United States, the concept of checks and balances was established to ensure that one branch of the government could not usurp enough power to become dominant. Each branch – executive, legislative, and judicial – has specific powers that are limited by another branch. Theoretically, the judicial branch should be apolitical, however, human nature and politics being what they are, this isn’t likely. Every Federal judge and Supreme Court justice has political leanings. The checks and balances come from the fact that they are nominated by the president, but must be confirmed by the Senate. Currently, as Mr. Gmerek stated, the presidency and the Senate are Republican controlled. This facilitates the perfectly normal and expected confirmation of judges and justices whose political leanings are in line with the conservative agenda desired by the majority of American voters. Not unexpectedly, and quite naturally, the Democrats don’t like this. Due to the will of the voters, all they can do is attempt to obstruct nominations from being confirmed as their part of the checks and balances process. That is their job as provided by the Constitution. One can hope that they will do this in a respectful manner. When the Democrats can figure out how to win elections and regain control, the roles will reverse.In case anyone might still be confused by Mr. Gmerek’s statement about checks and balances, please consider the following: The American voter can neither destroy, nor even change this or any other part of the Constitution except by constitutional amendment. Was there a recent vote for a constitutional amendment that I missed? Perhaps Mr. Gmerek is implying, by his statement, that there is, or should be something in the Constitution that does not allow the presidency and control of both houses of Congress to be in the hands of one political party?For 40 consecutive years, between 1955 and 1995, the Democratic Party was in control of the House of Representatives. For 34 of those 40 years, the Democratic Party controlled the Senate. (The Republican Party controlled the Senate from 1981 through 1986.) During the 34 years in which the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, Democrats were in the White House, as well, for 22 of those 34 years. Did the system work then? Of course it did! In spite of what is implied in Mr. Gmerek’s column, there is nothing unique about the current situation.The only difference is that the Republicans are in control rather than the Democrats.There is nothing wrong with the system. It is working exactly as the Founding Fathers intended. Perhaps Mr. Gmerek just doesn’t like being on the side that is not in power. The Democratic Party would be better served if they developed a real agenda and presented viable candidates that stand for something other than hate, fear, bigotry and class envy. This agenda, along with the agenda of the fringe elements of the party, is likely to alienate and drive more moderate Democrats away. Most voters who supported the Kerry/Edwards ticket were probably voting against President Bush, not for John Kerry. If the Democratic Party could nominate a candidate that stood for something rather than against something and could run on his own merits, I think their chances for success would improve. The unfortunate thing is that too many of the Democratic Party leadership do not even realize that there is a difference in these two approaches. They just don’t get it. Personally, I hope they never figure it out.
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