In this article, we will talk about the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful? In our current government, it is the separation of powers.
A government system that has three branches is better than one branch. Some people say a system with only two branches is better. Other people say the best form of government is a system where all power is controlled by one party.
A government with one branch might seem like a good idea at first. Only one group makes most of the decisions for the country. This group is responsible for making sure the laws of the country are enforced. The people who disagree with the laws can at least feel safe knowing that a government is watching out for their best interests. The group that keeps control of the government uses this power to protect its own citizens. Below are some factors that may stop one branch of government from becoming too powerful.
1. The Rule of Law.
Every government has laws. Laws can stop the government from becoming too powerful. If people don’t like the laws, they have a right to change them through the vote. When a law is changed, it becomes an amendment to the already existing laws. A law that is changed often must be followed if it is to retain its effectiveness. If a law is not changed, it takes on a life of its own and becomes an “unwritten rule.” Unwritten rules are laws that were made without the help of other laws. It can take a long time for an official government to realize that an unwritten rule has become outdated and is no longer being followed.
2. The Media
The media can make the government look bad if it does something that the public does not approve of. The power of the media is only as strong as how good or bad it is at reporting the truth. Most television stations, newspapers, magazines and radio stations have a lot of power over people because they can make them feel like they should vote one way or another. Before the media can influence public opinion, there must be a story to make the public want to hear some fact. Usually, when two opposing parties or groups reach a disagreement, they may try to get their version of the facts out first. This is called journalism. The media is the only way that most people have of knowing what their government is doing.
3. The People
The laws and the media may help stop one branch of government from becoming too powerful, but the ultimate way to stop a tyranny is through public opinion. The people of a government sometimes must be the ones to take action if the government becomes too powerful. The people of the United States have shown that they will not stand for a dictatorship by refusing to elect one party for an extended amount of time. When the president or the congress is not doing what the people think is right, they will “throw the rascals out” and elect new officials to replace them. The voters ultimately have the power in a democracy to change elected representatives who do not listen to their wishes.
4. The Judicial Branch
The judicial branch of government is the branch that hears cases involving the violation of laws and rules by the legislative, executive, or any other branch of government. The judicial branch is the last line of defense in a democratic society. It protects individuals who have a false charge of misconduct brought against them. It also protects the people by saying that the laws passed by our government do not their rights. The judicial branch also tries to say whether or not the laws passed by any branch of government are right or wrong. If a law is wrong, it should be removed from the books and rewritten.
5. Legislative Checks and Balances
The main power of a congress should be to create, change and save the laws of a country. The congress may be the most powerful branch of government, but it is constantly having its power checked by the other two branches. A congress makes the laws; to make a law, it must have the approval of the president and his cabinet. Even though a president may be in charge of many things, he is not the only official who can veto laws passed by the congress. In the United States, a congress can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds vote of its members. If a law is very important to the president, he will usually accept the fact that his veto will not be accepted and approve the law anyway. It is a rare occurrence that the president of the United States will “pocket-veto” a law passed by the congress.
6. Public Opinion
How a government is going to run a country is decided by the people. The members of the congress are sent to the capitol by the people who voted for them. The people have a right to change the executive branch of the government at any time. If there is a law that they do not approve of but they know it will affect them in a bad way, they can change the law. An example of this is the voting age.
7. Special Interest Groups
There are special interest groups in the United States that try to make sure that they won’t be ignored by any branch of the government. These groups are known as lobbies. Lobbyists never give up their efforts to get a law passed that they think is fair and just. Anybody can make a request to Congress, but only people who have money to spend can actually influence the legislators. The most powerful lobbies usually can get their way on a bill if they want to. There are no laws that prevent special interest groups from influencing the government. Lobbyists pay top dollar to get the attention of legislators so they can push their special interests.
The above information should show you why the people of a country must not give too much power to one branch of government. If a government is not careful, it could become too powerful and destroy all of the freedoms that people have been given by living in a democratic society.