The three branches of government won’t save us from Trump and Pence

One of the founding principles of this country is that no one person should have enough power to completely change the country. This is why the United States has three branches of government: the Executive, the President, the Legislative, Congress, and the Judiciary, our court system with the Supreme Court at the top. This multi-pronged system of government was instituted to ensure a system of checks and balances. Congress has to approve most of the actions taken by the President. The Judiciary has the right to rule on legislation that has already been passed, determining its constitutionality and its fitness to remain law. The President gets to make the tough decisions in the moment and is held accountable by both the Judiciary and Congress.
These checks and balances have been integrally important to the survival and success of the United States. Our Presidents do not drift toward autocracy or tyranny because their actions are being checked. Congress’ legislation is checked for fairness and constitutionality by the courts, so even the darkest stains in our legislative history eventually get corrected. The three branches of our government are why democracy has thrived in the United States. They are why the government even resembles a government of the people.
However, the checks and balances provided by these branches of government are weakening. Presidents Bush and Obama used Executive powers liberally. I’m not here to argue whether their uses of Executive powers were good or bad. I’m simply stating that they’ve both expanded the use of executive orders to get things done. While good things have been done with executive orders, the President’s ability to do whatever he wants without ratification from Congress is concerning. Executive orders can still be overturned by the Court if found unconstitutional, but the fact that the President has the power to enact legislation on his own, means that the office of the Executive is gaining power over the other branches.
In the past eight years Congress has also begun to exercise an unprecedented amount of power, the power of halting progress. During Obama’s presidency, Congress was largely controlled by members of the opposite party. They used the power of the legislative branch to show their opposition to the President by halting the passing of necessary legislation, literally shutting down the government, and by refusing to confirm Presidential nominations, like the nomination of Merrick Garland as a Supreme Court Justice. The current incarnation of Congress has proven that, should they choose to, they can halt the progress of the government by bringing it to a stand still.
This stand still created by Congress is one of the reasons Obama has chosen to rely so heavily on Executive orders. Congress flexes and so does the President. It can’t really be said that either branch is providing checks and balances. They are jockeying for power over the governance of this nation.
For the first time in many years both houses of Congress and the Presidency are held by the same political party. President Trump also has the opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court justice, since Congress refused to confirm the nomination of Merrick Garland. The Supreme Court Justice appointment is particularly important. The Court is currently well balanced between conservative and liberal justices. The new Justice will be a tie breaker, and Trump has promised to appoint a conservative Justice. This means that all three branches of government will essentially be controlled by a single party.
I ask you this: where are the checks and balances in that system? The President gets to work with a Congress that has the same ideas as him to get legislation passed. If that legislation is challenged, it can be reviewed by the Supreme Court, which will have a conservative majority.
It’s happened before that Congress and the Presidency were all held by the same party. This is not something new. And the Court has had a conservative majority during those times as well. So why am I concerned?
I’m concerned because the current Congress believes in the policies that Trump and Pence have put forward. So will the Court once Trump nominates his Justice. All three branches of government currently support sexist, racist, and anti-LGBTQ policies, and they will have the power to pass those policies. And the people of this country elected those representatives to Congress. They elected these men President and Vice President. The majority of our country seemingly supports bigotry.
I don’t believe that democracy is falling apart. I don’t believe that the three branches of government are defunct. But I do believe that this country is facing a time where bigotry is going to be legalized within structures of our government.
I am young. I didn’t live through times where bigotry and racism and sexism literally were legal. I didn’t have to fight the powers that be to make sure that they weren’t. I was born in to a time where I was told that was all over, and I didn’t know it was a lie. I never imagined that our country would be here again, and a lot of the people who fought to overthrow the old systems probably didn’t either, but here we are.
If you believe that Trump and Pence will be kept in check by Congress or the Supreme Court, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong. That leaves it up to us. Up to the people. We need to be the ones to hold our government accountable when they will not hold themselves accountable.
It is time for revolution.


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