As Progressives and many in the media complain about gridlock, Carla Garrison of the Washington Times reminds us the Founders took into account the power motive that animates those who seek government office and purposely created a system of checks and balances that make it so difficult to get things done in Washington.
Utopias, rights, freedom, and big government — Carla Garrison, Washington Times
WASHINGTON, March 17, 2012 —The debate over the size and role of government is about to reach a crescendo in America. The arguments are not new or unique to this country. They are the same ones that led to the American Revolution and at root every revolution. Deciding where you stand is important to our future.
The American formula is unique: big society, small government.
The formula that led to the only real free country to ever exist, hinges on checks and balances distributed among three branches of government with regularly elected representation of the people by the people. The technical form is constitutional republic. James Madison, primary author of the Constitution, explained in Federalist #51 that only this structure could preserve a free society because human nature will not change. By nature, humans are both bad and good. People that are smart enough to run government will inherently be ambitious. Ambition leads to power seeking.
Madison said, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” It is through the constitutionally created checks and balances and relative autonomy of each branch that ambition counteracts ambition.
“It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself,” Madison explained.
What is the role of government?