Separation of powers is something of a throw-away phrase for the Socialist-Democrat-Progressives. They hand it out like a comfort object to the public, a sort of well-worn teddy bear for the masses. It is meant to remind you that no matter what they do (or did) that bear will be there to help you feel better.
So what if it is a highly regulated bear, made by dues paying union workers, stuffed with warning labels, wearing a little red hat with a hammer and sickle on it, and maybe even an Obama T-shirt for good measure.
Separation of powers is also this idea where the three branches are divided to ensure that the tyrannical might of the federal government is divided to protect the rights of the people. This used to work, right up until someone wrote the seventeenth amendment, and then politicized the national court system. At that point we no longer had separation of powers just the separation of parties, except where the two parties agree; in which case we are looking at an Oligarchy by direct democracy, which is one of the shortest paths by which little Red Totalitarian-Riding hood arrives at Comrade Grandma’s house.
Why do you think both parties appear to be moving to opposite extreme’s? Why are states rebelling against the federal government? Because the system was broken on purpose, by progressives, who need direct democracy so that fear and intimidation can drive the polity to allow top down federal rule as the only viable solution.
So our central planning friends view separation of powers to mean separating you from their power, so they can go about the business of managing your lives, and no one has worked harder or longer to excise the power from the people than democrats, though the ruling class Neo-Cons have done plenty to help fill the picnic basket for grandma.
But there is a solution to this problem, one that can relieve the pressure of special interests, the boys club mentality, and the lack of responsiveness by the federal legislature to the state and the people.
The answer is to repeal the seventeenth amendment.
Amendment seventeen punched a hole in the hull just below the waterline by changing an aspect of the separation of powers that is never discussed in classrooms and almost a mystery to most Americans. It divides, not just the power of government, but the power of election.
The US House is the peoples House. It is called that because it is the only directly elected body (or was meant to be the only directly elected body) by the people. Terms are short, easy to replace. Those who refuse to listen will cause limited damage when all the other parts are working properly.
The President is elected by the electoral college, the states elected delegates who as each sovereign states granters of authority for this purpose, choose the person who shall serve to execute those laws of a federal nature that they all agree are needed to maintain the union.
And Senators (were) appointed by state legislatures and could be recalled at any time when their actions became a danger to the state whom they were chosen to represent.
This system removed the pay to play partisan/ideological politics we see today. It divided not just the powers among the branches of government, it divided the power to elevate people into those positions. It placed the power to elect those electors and representatives at the state level, with the lowest common denominator–Americans. So even when the people were not operating in a direct democracy at the federal level, they held the power–divided amongst themselves and their towns and counties–to choose who these electors and legislators were, knowing the power they had to appoint federal officials for them.
If you had failed to notice, it no longer works that way, and federal officials–for the most part–do whatever they want, and rely on money, power, and influence to overcome the public’s objections to their use or misuse of power.
Repealing the seventeenth amendment would change that.
By putting the Senate back under the control of the states own elected legislatures, the power play politics in the upper chamber in Washington DC would have to end. Anyone wanting to be a Senator would have to pay close attention to the will of their elected state legislature or risk being recalled and replaced. (It would also make the position available to people of great ability and wisdom and more meager means,)
Democrats hate this idea. They claim it will result in deal-making and state level corruption. (You mean like Blago and the selling of Obama’s seat? That was one bad man with too much power, not an entire legislature voting for a guy whose choice could get them tossed out of office in a year or two.) So is corruption a problem? All men are weak, but only democrats refuse to admit that–as they seek a man-made utopia that can never exist. The idea is to put barriers to corruption in place by dividing power not centralizing it, bureaucratizing it, and then institutionalizing it.
Appointed Senators who misbehave is a problem that the states and the people can resolve at the local ballot box by replacing the legislator who lives down the street, instead of waiting six years to try and replace a corrupt sitting senator with someone who has to raise millions just to try.
But the real reason the left hates the idea is that direct democracy is the shortest path to central rule–mob rule by the fragile majority of 50-plus one percent of voters convinced of an idea as vapid as hope and change, without any need to describe either. Been there, done that.
And appointed Senators would have no reason to side with a corrupt president either.
This is why we need to defend the electoral college from the idiots vying for a direct vote of the president, and it is why we must strive to repeal the seventeenth amendment. Direct democracy of our federal government is a death knell to local control, state sovereignty, and freedom as we know it. The Separation of powers is not just about the three branches of our corrupt tree of government, it is about how they are grown, and pruned, to protect American exceptionalism, to protect liberty as we once knew it.
[Updated: While I have been trying to glue my disparate thoughts on this topic together for a while, all the credit belongs to Todd Zywicki-George Mason University Law Professor–whose recent article in National Review (Nov 15 2010) brought it home for me]