I received a call from my daughter, "Things are getting crazy; What is going on with our country, dad?"
By asking, are we going to make it — is our democracy going to be all right, she was expressing the fears of many Americans.
As a retired government teacher, I attempted to reassure her: We are going to be okay. Our government is strong. The chaos you are seeing now will not last. The genius of our democracy is that no one person, party, or even group, can control the country. Decision-making power is strategically apportioned. To gain control of the whole nation is virtually impossible. Our Constitution apportions governing power between the federal, state and local levels. Each level with its own jurisdiction. Although the federal government does exert power over many issues, there are issues, such as education, law enforcement, land-use planning, which the Constitution reserves for the state. Each state has its own government with the autonomy to make its own decisions. If a conflict arises between the federal and state governments, the Supreme Court becomes the final arbitrator. The federal government cannot dictate laws or policies over matters the Constitution has relegated to the states. This prevents a president from ever becoming a dictator king.
Another major concern is the abuse of presidential power, and again, the genius of our Founding Fathers comes to the rescue. In addition to each level of government being a deterrent to concentration and abuse of power, the Constitution also describes how each branch checks and balances the other two.
The Congress was given law-making power — not the president. The Executive Branch was given power to see that the laws are carried out. The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution when a dispute arises. Each branch is an independent authority, to be used to check and or balance the other branches. Again, this prevents any one branch or individual from doing harm to our democracy.
The most powerful check and balance is the voice of we the people. Our democracy was built from the bottom up, not the top down. Citizens speaking out for what they believe provides our elected officials the information needed to truly represent the will of their constituency. Never forget the government is — us, the people. Each of us is responsible for seeing that our democracy works.