April 16, 2024

Managing Legislative Power

The American experiment is weird. Having had a king try to destroy it, the founders of America decided to try to limit the power of the executive while also embracing the fact that having a singular decision-maker/executive had its advantages. Being the people they were, checks and balances were put into place so that the executive could not make himself king, even though every group of people has desired to have a charismatic leader in front of them for as long as there has been recorded history.

For an easy example, just look at Israel’s history in the book of 1 Samuel. The children of Israel were tired of following God as leader of the nation and decided they wanted a king just like everyone else.

In American political life in 2024 we see this playing out with people blaming or applauding the executive for getting things done, like this latest piece in the Washington Post talking about VA Gov. Youngkin (once a possible nominee for President) not getting his arenas in Alexandria, VA:

But as the Republican chief executive of a purple state, Youngkin has struggled to translate that business acumen into political success — or even economic development success, with the demise Wednesday of his much-touted plan to bring the Washington Wizards and Capitals to Alexandria.

While Youngkin and his group of financial experts had negotiated with team owner Ted Leonsis to cut what the governor called “the single largest economic development deal in Virginia’s history,” the governor was never able to work the same magic with members of the General Assembly who had to sign off on the $2 billion project.

The plan’s failure wipes out a significant legacy-making opportunity for a novice politician who burst onto the scene in 2021 and drew national attention as a fresh Republican face. In his first two years in office, Youngkin enjoyed state coffers overflowing with federal pandemic relief funds and a friendly GOP-controlled House of Delegates. But as the clock winds down on his four-year term, the governor has lost the legislature to Democrats and seen his priorities slip away.

Va. Gov. Youngkin arrived like a GOP star, but arena failure clouds legacy

The article states that, if only Youngin had spent the time in the various districts to build support like previous governors did, then he might have gotten what he wanted. And that’s possibly true– he could have used his popularity to pressure the representatives. But at the end of the day, the legislature is the driving power, and that’s by design. The legislature should also be held responsible.

We have very powerful executive branches because we have legislatures that do not like the system of government we have. Therefore, they do one of two things– they block or pass only the priorities of the winning party or they empower agencies to make regulations that do not require votes and accountability to the people. The latter results in the executive changing the whole government on a whim. Instead of stability, we get more animosity and extremes where we should have calm.

The American system is broken because those who serve the posts no longer believe in or respect the ideals– they only refer to them when it’s in their favor, and willingly throw them out the window when it’s not.

This is going to lead to the dissolution of this democratic republic into oligarchy or tribal chieftains soon– if it hasn’t already.

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