“A system of checks and balances should be adopted to prevent the abuse of power.” After listening to some of the impeachment inquiry this week, our 17th Principle of liberty could not be more pertinent. Welcome as we continue in our book study of “The 5000 Year Leap.” (Skousen, W. Cleon. The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Ideas That Changed the World. National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1981).
We’re experiencing live and in real-time, the checks and balances system of our government under scrutiny. In fact, Cleon Skousen refers to the Watergate scandal as an illustration of the peaceful transfer of power in our country in a time of crisis. Skousen tells us that President Nixon “was found to have used his high office for purposes which were behind the scope of his authority and outside the ramifications of legal conduct.” Although he was Commander- In- Chief of the Armed Forces, Nixon didn’t stage a military coup.
Our Founders foresaw the need to “build in” a process that would take the country through peaceful transitions when the Constitution has been blatantly violated by the “President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States.” Skousen refers to this as “self-repair.” It’s what distinguishes our country from others who tried to implement our Constitution for themselves but failed for lack of checks and balances on power. They end up in anything but a peaceful transition of power. Many times, there is bloodshed.
So, know that while what is going on in the news today is troublesome to many Americans, it is still the process designed by our Founders to be a check on power.
I thought it interesting that our author lays out 18 systems of checks and balances that were the original intent of our Founders. Here is a sample from this chapter on the 17th Principle:
The House serves as a check on the Senate since no statute can become law without the approval of the House and vice versa.
A President can restrain both Houses of Congress by using his veto to send back any bill that doesn’t meet his/her approval.
The Congress has a check on the President by being able to pass a bill over the President’s veto.
The President must have Senate approval when filling important offices in the executive branch.
The judiciary has a check on the legislative branch through its authority to review all laws and determine their constitutionality.
We the People have a check on our Congressmen every 2 years, on the President every 4 years, and on the Senate every 6 years through our voting.
If you’ve never understood checks and balances before, this is an excellent primer that illustrates how they work.
So, if you are one who has become discouraged with the current impeachment inquiry, know that our Founders gave us this process for our protection. People are prone to abuse power. It’s human nature. Our Founders gave us a country with a process and a peaceful means to handle crises. Thankfully, in the end, no matter what side you are on, the truth will come to light. It always does. That’s Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.