"But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
James Madison, Federalist #51
I love this quote, in that it perfectly highlights the need for balance of “power to” and “power over”.
Moreover, it spells out that in order to maintain the separation of powers, those in power have to WANT to maintain that separation. In recent years, we have seen power of the government being consolidated into one branch of government: congress. The majority party in the House refuses to let any legislation through that in any way will benefit our first black president, and the minority party in the Senate - the MINORITY party - has sufficient power to prevent any legislation they don’t like to even see the light of day via filibuster.
Why does this matter? Because this:
We know what direction to go. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. […]
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.
Add to that a Supreme Court which sill creatively interpret the Constitution to mean whatever will make their handlers the most money, and you have exactly what Madison was warning against.
The 2014 midterm elections are fast approaching. Let’s not have a repeat of 2010. Don’t stay home. This may be the last chance we get to stop the Red Curtain from coming down.