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Old 08-21-2011, 05:12 PM
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Default Intent of the Founding Fathers - Checks and Balances



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I have noticed that there are a number of threads wandering through here that discuss the various political candidates as well as Congress, a President who is unable to dictate policy and the tendency of the Courts to legislate from the bench....

The funny thing is that a lot of our current problems stem from having tinkered with the Constitution over various populist efforts to the effect that the finely tuned delicate balance of opposing camps was disturbed.

Did it ever occur to anyone that having all of the various sections of our government at loggerheads was actually the original intent?

Consider that with the inherent inability of any one branch to run the government on its own without at least some consensus involving the other branches your are forcing the government to work together. It is only IF the branches can agree that anything is done.

Originally, it was only the Representatives that were represented by a direct vote of the people.

The Senate was created to represent the State Legislatures and the State's Rights... not to be another version of the House.

The Executive was elected through the Electors of the Electoral Collage. With the person who got the second highest number of votes serving as the Vice President of the country as well as the President and deciding vote in the event of a tie within the Senate. It was quite possible to have members of opposing parties serving as President and Vice-President. Each providing a check, balance ad advocate against the other.

The Executive Branch was created to be a road block to an indecisive Congress... a Veto can stop things in their tracks.... Unless two thirds of BOTH Branches of Congress can agree to override the Executive...

The Courts can stop things in their tracks... based on an interpretation of the Constitution... which two thirds of the Congress in Combination with three fifths of the State Legislatures... OR by approval of a constitutional Convention by two thirds of the State Legislatures can stop in THEIR tracks by changing the rules....

It was never meant to be an easy process.

It was meant to be one of deliberation with the ability to act as soon as the necessary consensus could be achieved or IF it was ever achieved.

The need was to balance against the tyranny of the majority (a Democracy, wherein we could all get together to vote who we wanted killed or taxed, like the Greeks did through the mechanism of the Ostracha) or the Tyranny of the Minority (a Republic in which a small group's rights could prevent the majority from acting as they wished due to laws or through as simple a mechanism as a Senate filibuster). Only through consensus could a measured action be undertaken.

This is why a financial act must originate within the House of Representatives, being a method of imposing taxes or using the taxes that are raised through collections from the governed, who DIRECTLY elect the Representatives deciding how to tax as well as how to spend the funds.

The ultimate power of the governed was (and is) protected by the Constitutional right granted to an armed population (the Militia necessary to Guarantee the Security of a Free State) having the ability to overthrow a government they feel is no longer operating in their own interests.

With this right was also guaranteed the ability of the people to meet, speak, publish, report on and advocate for their positions while pursuing their religious beliefs without restriction.

The whole system was finely balanced to ensure that no one faction could really control the system unless enough people acquiesced to it or consented to it.
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Old 08-21-2011, 06:04 PM
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The intent of checks and balances was to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful. And generally, the government governs best who governs least: and the concept checks and balances also seems to promote that as well. The problem is this, however, the legislature being an often fractious due to its bicameral nature, often does not have the wherewithall to really stand up to the executive or judicial branches. While the judicial also has a mixed court in the SCOTUS, they generally are not challenged by any of the other two branches. And finally the Executive, which has broad regulatory powers either given by congress or simply seized through precedent, is often not sufficiently checked by congress OR the judicial. So the system isn't perfect, but then, no system is.
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:01 PM
Mule Skinner Mule Skinner is offline
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We also know that the Founding Fathers were human beings, and therefore imperfect. Why should we therefore assign perfection to their creation?

And while we're at it, let's acknowledge that there were no Founding Mothers, or Founding Savages (that would be Indians).
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:04 PM
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I agree, many people expect things to "get done", but fail to realize that when they don't get done, that was part of the original intent. So when Obama gives a deadline to legislators, he's completely oblivious of the role of the federal government as it was originally intended. He of course tries to then circumvent the process with a "super Congress". Naturally he feels restricted by the existing process, because that was how the process was designed.

Also I might add the ultimate checks and balance is you and me. No it's not that we can rise up and overthrow the government, it's the process of nullification. If there is a law that we don't like, then we just ignore it. If enough people agree with us, then there is nothing that can be done. If a jury is assembled for a criminal trial and only one person agrees with us, then it's at worst a hung jury. Jury nullification is something that the government (i.e. judges) will never be allowed to be mentioned by the defense, so it's up to us to understand that this is part of the system as it was designed. If there is a trial and you're ever on a jury, remember that you're not a robot and don't have to try to be fair and impartial. Your opinion could just be because you don't like the law or that you liked the hat the defendant was wearing, it's just as valid as everyone elses opinion.
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Old 08-21-2011, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tknight View Post
Did it ever occur to anyone that having all of the various sections of our government at loggerheads was actually the original intent?
Indeed it was, in fact in most ways it is self-cleansing, the biggest flaw is the growth of government and that "largess of the treasury" demon.
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Old 08-21-2011, 08:28 PM
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I would think a beautiful part of our original plan, was that a majority of independant minded house members, and a majority of independant minded senators, and the president, had to come to some kind of agreement on what was good for the country and the citizenry. THAT is a recipe for a small government.

The introduction of the political party corrupted the system. Then you had a block of people voting for whatever cause that was good for the party, but not necessarily for you, your constituants, or the country.

I too am a strong believer in jury nullification. I have only recently learned of it. Something I am pondering is 'administrative punishment' as a backdoor method for the government to avoid a criminal trial at all. A situation, such as the 'no weapons in school' criteria. If all you do is point your finger at another kid and go bang, you can get kicked out of school. The kids are learning that the government can tell them anything to do - or not. With no criminal charges filed, how can the jury nullify?
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mule Skinner View Post
We also know that the Founding Fathers were human beings, and therefore imperfect. Why should we therefore assign perfection to their creation?
That's a point a lot of people miss, I'm afraid. Once the founding fathers are no longer men, but gods, then the possibility of talking in terms of facts rather than dogma is gone.

A point to remember though: the founding fathers disagreed on a great many things, and remember, even the term 'founding fathers' is very loose. Obviously we would consider Franklin and Jefferson, but what of other notable though less intellectually refined patriots of the age?
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Old 08-21-2011, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kid at Heart View Post
A situation, such as the 'no weapons in school' criteria. If all you do is point your finger at another kid and go bang, you can get kicked out of school. The kids are learning that the government can tell them anything to do - or not. With no criminal charges filed, how can the jury nullify?
Great point. I think it's a problem with giving government too much power in the first place. There were no public schools back in the founders day.

You're right though. We can't jury nullify a school administrators decision, because it has no presumption of innocence. If we try to sue them, it's basically past the initial criminal trial and moving into a civil trial. We can't try to vote them out of office, because that's playing into their game and they're better at it than we are. We can't just home/private school, because we lose all the property taxes we pay into the system.

I have no clue how we fight this issue.
Old 08-21-2011, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tknight View Post

The Senate was created to represent the State Legislatures and the State's Rights... not to be another version of the House.
You are so right - - we have stripped away the checks and balances. I agree with the previous posts that the constitution wasn't perfect, and thus the founding fathers put in place a way to amend and change it. But in changing it, balances were not put in place - - they were simply eliminated.

An example is your point that the Senate was created to represent the State Legislatures. Another way of stating that is to perhaps state that by having the Senators elected by the various state legislatures, a Senator would never be allowed to pass a Washington D.C. UNFUNDED MANDATE. It was only AFTER the 17th amendment was enacted that the Federal government started passing laws and requiring the States to pay for the implementation. I'm not suggesting that electing Senators directly by the voters is a bad thing - - but perhaps the 17th amendment should have also included a "check and balance" that prohibited the Fed's from passing unfunded mandates back onto the states. Or perhaps some other "check" on the power of the Federal government to offset the effect of having Senators directly elected by the populace.

The largest example is Medicaid. I think many people would agree with the "idea" behind providing some type of medical care to the needy - - but we should have found a way to pay for it that included limits and not a ponzy scheme and on the backs of the states.

So while the document as written was not perfect ....... the idea of checks and balances was and is perfect ....... but unfortunately ruined. As Ben Franklin so aptly noted - - they (the founding fathers) gave us a Republic (a Democratic Republic) if we can keep it. We didn't.

Maybe after the SHTF, we can get back to the principles of being a Republic with appropriate checks and balances.
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:53 PM
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Default Men are not perfect... but you must admire the deviousness...

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Originally Posted by Mule Skinner View Post
We also know that the Founding Fathers were human beings, and therefore imperfect. Why should we therefore assign perfection to their creation?
I do not claim in any way that the "Founding Fathers" were in any way G_d like or perfect. They were men with human limitations and foibles...

What I DO admire, however, is the very human deviousness of the balanced system that they created collectively.

This is something that comes from way too much rum, smoking the crops and being on the receiving end of bad government and a superior liberal arts education.

Cicero would be proud.
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Old 08-22-2011, 09:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mule Skinner View Post
We also know that the Founding Fathers were human beings, and therefore imperfect. Why should we therefore assign perfection to their creation?

And while we're at it, let's acknowledge that there were no Founding Mothers, or Founding Savages (that would be Indians).
No one in this thread has said that the Founding Fathers were perfect or that their creation is perfect so your straw man argument is completely ludicrous.

I AM saying that neither you nor anyone else in the history of mankind has come up with a better document for the governance of men than the Constitution.
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Old 08-22-2011, 09:20 AM
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Because I want our precious country live up "to the Republic for which it stands", I continue to vote based the candidate who has the most consistent voting record with regard to our founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights). This way, I can't be swayed by peripheral issues like appearance, media spin, hype, sound bytes, confusion, etc. Why do I do this? Because I pledge allegiance to our flag every day.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:40 PM
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Because I want our precious country live up "to the Republic for which it stands", I continue to vote based the candidate who has the most consistent voting record with regard to our founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights). This way, I can't be swayed by peripheral issues like appearance, media spin, hype, sound bytes, confusion, etc. Why do I do this? Because I pledge allegiance to our flag every day.
I, like you, say the pledge of allegiance everyday. Recently have been studying more about the crafting of the pledge, and whether it makes sense to pledge allegience to a "flag" or whether it makes more sense to pledge allegience to the constitution. I read of a grass roots group trying to change the wording somewhat. I don't have it memorized, so I may be off by a word or two. But the suggested re-write would be something like this: I pledge allegience to the constitution of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I think that wording, or something close to it, would make a lot of sense. On the other hand, I'm too old to learn something new!

Anyway, thanks for being a Great American!
Old 08-22-2011, 08:50 PM
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There's truth to the comments here, both negative and positive. The fact is that there are different products that will appeal to different types of buyer. There are some people that value the convenience and simplicity of something like this.

It's kind of like off-the-shelf first aid kits. They're usually just band aids and alcohol swabs in a nice red box for $10...but you can look one shelf higher and get a box of bandaids for $2 and a box of swabs for $1 and have five times the amount of each. Yet...people buy the first aid kits.

I think this would be a nice thing to have around in certain circumstances. I would like to get one to supplement my canned goods. I also wouldn't mind having one so that if the SHTF I can drop it off at my mother's house so she can have something to eat. (I don't care how much of a survivalist you are, if you can stand by and watch your own mother starve, there's something wrong with you. =P)
Old 08-22-2011, 11:15 PM
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I think having judges serve for life is stupid. They're politically appointed, not based on how good of judges they are.
Old 08-22-2011, 11:24 PM
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I think having judges serve for life is stupid. They're politically appointed, not based on how good of judges they are.
I think judges should serve for 6 year terms, staggered so that 1/3rd of them come up every 2 years just like the Senate. Allow them to be re-appointed for their EXISTING position ONCE. Then if they aren't appointed for a higher court, they are OUT.

Since judges know they would have to depend on ELECTED officials to appoint and confirm them every 6 years, they would naturally have to be more conservative and less controversial. They would thus, be accountable to the People indirectly.

A judge's career path would be like this:

District: max 12 years
Appellate: max 12 years
Supreme: max 12 years

If they served the maximum at every level, no judge could be in office more than 36 years. And that would be rare, as there are fewer seats as you move up in rank. This would mean lots more turnover, and no judicial empires created based on "I was confirmed, it doesn't matter if I start ruling based on the constitution of Krapistan, only Congress can impeach me" which goes on now. Supreme Court justices would last no longer than 12 years, meaning less time for them to "grow" into the establishment.
Old 08-23-2011, 12:23 AM
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We are no longer a Republic. Not really. Ever since the State legislatures lost the ability to choose senators. We are a Democracy now. And Democracies do terrible things to their citizens, all in the guise of prosperity and security.
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