The system of checks and balances as the most important factor in american democracy

Print As an American citizen, I have been rather appalled, like many others, at the rise of Donald Trump.

The system of checks and balances as the most important factor in american democracy

Continue to article content As an American citizen, I have been rather appalled, like many others, at the rise of Donald Trump. On the other hand, as a political scientist, I am looking ahead to his presidency with great interest, since it will be a fascinating test of how strong American institutions are.

Americans believe deeply in the legitimacy of their constitutional system, in large measure because its checks and balances were designed to provide safeguards against tyranny and the excessive concentration of executive power. But that system in many ways has never been challenged by a leader who sets out to undermine its existing norms and rules.

So we are embarked in a great natural experiment that will show whether the United States is a nation of laws or a nation of men.

Story Continued Below President Trump differs from almost every single one of his 43 predecessors in a variety of important ways. His business career has shown a single-minded determination to maximize his own self-interest and to get around inconvenient rules whenever they stood in his way, for example by forcing contractors to sue him in order to be paid.

He was elected on the basis of a classic populist campaign, mobilizing a passionate core of largely working-class voters who believe—often quite rightly—that the system has not been working for them. He has attacked the entire elite in Washington, including his own party, as being part of a corrupt cabal that he hopes to unseat.

He has already violated countless informal norms concerning presidential decorum, including overt and egregious lying, and has sought to undermine the legitimacy of any number of established institutions, from the intelligence community which he compared to Nazis to the Federal Reserve which he accused of trying to elect Hillary Clinton to the American system of electoral administration which he said was rigged, until he won.

Daron Acemoglu, an economist who studies failing states, has argued that American checks and balances are not as strong as Americans typically believe: The elites who opposed him are coming around to accepting him as normal president.

Acemoglu is right that civil society is a critical check on presidential power, and that it is necessary for the progressive left to come out of its election funk and mobilize to support policies they favor. I argue in my most recent book that the American political system in fact has too many checks and balances, and should be streamlined to permit more decisive government action.

Many institutional checks on power will continue to operate in a Trump presidency. While Republicans are celebrating their control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, there are huge ideological divisions within their coalition.

Trump is a populist nationalist who seems to believe in strong government, not a small-government conservative, and this fracture will emerge as the new administration deals with issues from ending Obamacare to funding infrastructure projects. Trump can indeed change the judiciary, or more troubling, simply ignore court decisions and try to delegitimize those judges standing in his way.

But shifting the balance in the courts is a very slow process whose effects will not be fully felt for a number of years. More overt attacks on the judiciary will produce great blowback, as happened when he attacked Federal District Judge Gonzalo Curiel during the campaign.

Trump will have enormous difficulties controlling the executive branch, as anyone who has worked in it would understand. It is true that the U. But Trump does not come into office with a huge cadre of loyal supporters that he can insert into the bureaucracy. He has never run anything bigger than a large family business, and does not have 4, children or in-laws available to staff the U.

Many of the new assistant and deputy secretaries will be Republican careerists with no particular personal ties to El Jefe.

The system of checks and balances as the most important factor in american democracy

Finally, there is American federalism. Washington does not control the agenda on a host of issues. Undermining Obamacare on a federal level will shift a huge burden onto the states, including those run by Republican governors who will have to balance budgets on the backs of the default from Washington.

California, where I live, is virtually a different country from Trumpland and will make its own environmental rules regardless of what the president says or does.

Madison's Nightmare: How Executive Power Threatens American Democracy by Peter M. Shane, an excerpt

His strategy right now is clear:What Makes Democracy Work? democracy is founded on checks and balances. It is a system of government implemented with the intent that no one branch or department of government can ever gain too much power (McCormick , 49).

quite possibly the most important factor to the success of democracy is that it becomes “the only . The system of checks and balances in the Constitution means that change usually comes slowly, if at all, and moderation and compromise are typical in our political system.

Our system of separation of powers through checks and balances reflects the Founders’ interpretation of a republican form of government in which the legislative or lawmaking branch, as the most powerful branch, must also be the most restrained. Checks And Balances System Of Government There is a system in the United States Constitution, which was made particularly to control the amount of power each branch of government has.

This system is called Checks and Balances and it is very important . Video: System of Checks & Balances: Purpose, Importance & Examples This lesson will cover the system of checks and balances that exist among the three branches of the federal government.

When most people think of democracy, the first thing that comes to mind is typically not the blueprint for the system of checks and balances or the technical aspects of the voting process.

Many people think of democracy more as way of life.

Checks and Balances. | The Campaign for Democracy