A quick recap: America’s government began in revolution against the British king. The colonies had to cooperate in order to field an army of rebels, and they did so by means of the Continental Congress.
Following the revolution, it seemed logical for the various colonies to form a confederation, and the United States of America was born with the United States Constitution, adopted September 17, 1787. The Constitution set up a division of power with three supposedly co-equal branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. We have a representative democracy, in which the states elect senators and representatives – the people are not allowed to vote directly on any issue. This system worked well, for the most part, and not counting the contentious times around the Civil War, until about the year 1992, when Congress and the President began to be at odds. The first government shutdowns occurred under Bill Clinton in 1995 and 1996. The attempt to impeach Clinton probably began the great increasing trend in polarization between the parties, no doubt intensified by the Bush-Gore election and the second war with Iraq. Hard feelings between parties continued to grow until we have today’s situation.
In my opinion, the equality of power between the three branches of government has seriously deteriorated since Clinton’s time. The three branches are no longer co-equal. The executive branch has become dominant. What we have now is almost a dictatorship. The president fails to enforce whatever laws he doesn’t like. He stonewalls investigations into improprieties in his administration. He issues Executive Orders to change the laws and regulations without consulting Congress. The House is likely to investigate his action to extend the timeline for corporations to adopt Obamacare requirements, which they consider extra-legal; he did it without authority.
The Attorney General and various other officials have managed to totally flout Congress. The House seemingly has no power to enforce cooperation in its various investigations into misconduct by government agencies. A Contempt of Congress citation against Eric Holder is meaningless until he leaves office, since he won’t prosecute himself. Even afterward, a Democrat in the office may refuse to initiate proceedings.
The Supreme Court often votes along strict party lines. One might think law is different for the two parties. There are also two ways of looking at the Constitution, apparently. Democrats seem to believe big government should be able to totally ignore it. Republicans like to think there are some things the Federal government should leave to the states. Almost certainly, Obama will be able to give liberals the majority within his last three years of office.
State’s rights don’t seem to mean much now. States receive so much money from the Federal government that they almost have to go along, even if they aren’t mandated to cooperate.
The Federal government has become a giant money collector, borrower, and distributor. Politicians spend a million dollars the way an ordinary citizen would a nickel. A billion dollars is like a twenty to Congress and the President. But, when you spend a few billion here, and a few billion there, they add up. A thousand billion dollars is a trillion, and our Federal debt is about 17 of them. We have the most wasteful president in history, and the government agencies he is supposed to manage seem to think they can do anything whatever with government money, including having lots of parties. After all, there’s an endless supply of it.
Being elected to the House or Senate is like winning the lottery, and most politicians think only of their re-election. They pander to the voters and support huge giveaways to them. They vote themselves high salaries and great benefits, including retirement. Many become old in their job. Proposed amendments to the Constitution to impose term limits and make Congress members have to follow the same laws as everyone else don’t seem to be going anywhere. At this moment, many members of Congress are trying to exempt themselves from the Obamacare regulations for their own offices. There are a few good public servants in the group of 500+, but good ones who follow conservative principles are rare.
The majority of the electorate is either totally self-serving, uninformed, or stupid, in my opinion. After all, they re-elected Obama after four years of miserable performance. They allowed Democrats to retain control of the Senate in 2010. Nevada re-elected Harry Reid.
Overall, the Federal government is ineffective. They haven’t agreed on a budget since 2007. The party in power takes no interest in cutting back spending or addressing the deficit and debt. The Congress can’t get needed reforms done, or even agree on what is needed. Incompetence is rampant in the State Department and the IRS. Legislation, totally dominated by Democrats since 2008, has been immensely overcomplicated. Obamacare was voted into law by Democrats who never read the bill – no human could read and understand it in less than a month. No one knows who wrote the bill of more than 2000 pages. It’s an immense social experiment and no one knows how our medical care will be affected by it.
Barack Obama came to the office without any significant accomplishment and was totally unqualified. He’s intelligent and well-spoken, but – his is a weird personality. He doesn’t lead, never proposes detail. He controls everything but is responsible for nothing. He just tells Congress he wants legislation of a certain kind, and leaves it to them – knowing that the Congress is divided and incompetent, and can’t agree on anything. He apparently despises conservatives and never listens to Republican suggestions. He spends most of his time campaigning, fund-raising, traveling to make unneeded speeches on the public budget and visiting foreign countries for no apparent reason. I have never figured out whether he’s incompetent or is deliberately trying to wreck the economy, but the effect is the same.
About the time the Roman Empire collapsed, I imagine some people were saying similar things about their leadership.
As I have often said, I’m not totally satisfied with our present administration, but of course you’d never figure that out from what I’ve written here.