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Checks, Balances and the Nature of Man

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

The world is not perfect. In fact life is filled with distress and suffering. Reprehensible acts of cruelty witnessed throughout history serve as a reminder of the existence and perpetuation of evil.

People have always sought an answer to the problem of human corruption. According to the Judeo-Christian tradition, the chasm between the utopian and the corporeal has been explained by a notion commonly referred to as "The Fall."

According to Francis Schaeffer, in this modern post-Christian era the concept of a "fall" has lost favor. The idea of an inherent failing is inconsistent with the popular view of humanity expressed by secular psychology and sociology.

This secular view is employed politically by those who seek a greater good for citizens through governmental action. Somehow when the latest variation of governance decays and falls short of its objectives, the problem is seen as a utilization of the wrong system rather than attributing failure to anything intrinsic in the human heart.

Critics of those who hold traditional religious beliefs often ask how a Sovereign Creator can be good and loving when the world contains such misery and chaos. Although many explanations have been offered, the most reasonable proposes that human beings were of a different condition when they were first created and have, through the exercise of their will, altered that condition to result in their current "fallen" state. This has caused all people to be separated and spiritually dead relative to the Almighty. Thus the human heart is observed as having been corrupted.

The Founding Fathers of our nation believed in this paradigm and constructed the system of government for our newly formed union accordingly. It is particularly observable in the many checks and balances contained within the Constitution.

Due to the nature of man, power must never be concentrated in any one branch of government. Such consolidated power would eventually lead to the tyranny from which the Founders sought to escape. Moreover, they wished to insure governmental accountability. A sufficiently powerful yet limited government was their objective. This goal was realized by the creation of three branches of government, each branch being limited by the other two. Congress was expressly given the power to check the Administrative Branch as evidenced by the congressional power to pass a law over a presidential veto, to refuse to ratify a treaty or to reject the nomination of an appointment.
The Founders also gave Congress impeachment powers to remove a sitting president or other members of an administration from office.

In a case where there is abundant evidence that one branch of government went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent the law, other branches must fulfill their constitutional duty to check the abuse of power.

Placing faith in the ability of one branch of government to investigate itself runs counter to the Founders' view of the nature of man and their intent to create a system of checks and balances. Under the present circumstances, Congress has little faith in the capacity of the Justice Department to be impartial in investigating the current administration.

The issues at stake are not trivial. Policy for cash, money-laundering and foreign influence over U.S. policy are serious fundamental concerns. When the Administration stonewalls and prominent potential witnesses find refuge in foreign exile, the Founders' concerns over the concentration of power are extremely timely.

To address these critical matters, congressional investigations must continue. Summoning the director of the FBI and the Attorney General to explain their respective positions to the American people is an encouraging step. Nonetheless, our elected representatives must not shrink from their obligation to provide a check and balance for an administration that is out of control.

Yet the most effective check that we have available to balance power within our government is to conscientiously exercise our voting privileges. Those of us who share the ideals and beliefs of the Founders must organize, recruit and orchestrate a record turnout for the next election cycle, thereby implementing the ultimate checkmate to those who seek to abuse their authority.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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