Principle of Checks and Balances

I want to talk about governments which are more or less like that of the United States. The basic principle is to divide the powers of government into Federal, State, and Municipal.

The powers of the Federal government are divided into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial; or, law-maker, policeman, and judge. And a similar division of powers exists on the State and Municipal levels.

Each branch is supposed to get the approval of the others to some degree, with rules for overriding. Congress passes laws, the President has the power of veto, but Congress has the power of overriding the veto. And the Supreme Court has the power to annul a law as unconstitutional (when tested).

As things stand, the President too has a law-making power in formulating a budget, issuing Presidential orders, having a private surveillance apparatus, and a private army, power of martial law, declaring a disaster area, power of federal pardon, and the command of the military; as well as all the legislative powers of the various cabinet posts. He nominates the cabinet posts; the Senate confers.

This is a great amount of power to give to one individual. And single individuals will want to play Napoleon in world chess — sacrificing pawns all over the place. Pawns are soldiers and civilians, which is to say — almost everyone.

This power is even greater in an “integral” country like Ukraine, which does not have a federated structure. In Ukraine, the president appoints all the governors; and the cabinet posts have national powers. Only on the municipal level is there a locally elected mayor and city-council, but the police and the judicial system are controlled by national cabinet posts.

Do I have to tell you what is wrong with giving power to a single individual on the national scale? The answer is. You get Stalin, Putin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and all the other crazies of history. You also court getting other types of lunatics into power — like Trump.

I propose that the power of the Executive should be divided between at least two individuals, as was done in ancient Sparta, with two kings; and ancient republican Rome, with two consuls.

The only significant current country to have done this is Switzerland. It has a seven-member Federal Council. It avoids the power of money and demagoguery in electing the executive by letting their four leading political parties nominate the candidates (as contrasted with self-nomination with the backing of money). The Swiss joint bicameral parliament confers the candidates. These seven are also the cabinet posts of Switzerland.

They meet in secret to deliberate and decide issues. And once a decision is made by majority vote, it is upheld by all of them. And unlike the voting of the Supreme Court in the United States, how each member of the Swiss Federal Council votes is not made public.

The only sane course for any country is to imitate Switzerland.

Why is this not done? Because it is to the advantage of those with money to have a President — in any and every country — who can be bribed and threatened.

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