by Mark Moore
The establishment is not a fan of separation of powers. This is because it creates friction which slows down the looting machine that government has become. This is especially true when some of that power is possessed by the Legislature, These days, most of us dislike the legislature and feel like it does not represent us anymore. And that is true, it doesn’t. That is what happens when voters just go by a party label- the legislators serve the groups which fund the national party and not the people.
The party system has also destroyed much of the legislature’s power, and rendered it generally unable to function as intended by the Founders. This is because almost half of every legislature will stick by an executive of their party almost regardless of what they do. No wonder the Executive Branch has grown in power while the Legislative Branch, the People’s Branch, has grown impotent and almost irrelevant.
Today Barack Obama ordered the U.S. military to bomb targets in Syria, an act of war. He did not even bother to ask for Congressional approval despite the clear Constitutional provision that it is Congress, not the Executive, which is to declare war. He has also on numerous occasions decided that he will not enforce provisions of Obamacare that could prove problematic for him. He has even threatened to grant mass amnesty to illegal aliens by Executive Order. If Congress does not pass the laws he wants, he simply makes them up himself. And he is not the only executive to dominate a legislature. It’s par for the course now.
The establishment, left and right, have a distaste for the Rule of Law and the Legislative Branch. It is the only branch that is still within reach of a determined grassroots effort. They want a strong Executive so that they can “get things done” that most citizens have no interest in seeing done, or even downright oppose. The Big Boys want the legislature to be a rubber stamp, almost irrelevant, and for the most part they are getting their way.
In Arkansas do we have a good legislature which should be trusted with more power? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we have a good legislature at this point, but its fixable. We get what we pay for in legislative salaries. We need better legislators that work for us and to get them we are going to have to pay them better, just like any other boss would have to do to get better help. Still, it is not the legislators themselves I trust, it is that the legislators are still within reach of the People. They know their offices can be wrested from them if they don’t at least pretend to be responsive to constituents. They are still in the influence of the People. I have no confidence that this is the case for Governors and Presidents.
That brings us to Ballot Issue #1. What is says is that the appropriate legislative committee would have to approve any rule change by state agencies. The state (establishment) press is of course against it. The Arktimes crazies are screeching that it would lead to “one branch” government. Given how the position of the legislature has eroded, these claims are somewhere between false and ridiculous.
The articles take the tone that state bureaucracies are supposed to be their own equal branch of government. They are not. They are the executors for the Executive Branch, which is supposed to be “faithfully” executing the laws. What are the supposed to be “faithful” to? The constitution and legislative intent. That is, the executive branch should be executing the laws according to what the legislature intended when they passed them. Right now they take whatever laws the legislature passes and then carry them out however they want to with no real oversight from the legislature.
I have seen personnel from state agencies spin, mislead, and even lie to legislators in an effort to scare them into or out of doing something. The power between the agencies and the legislators is all out of whack because they hold most of the information and can stay at their jobs for decades. The news article attributes the desire to pass the measure to a state legislature which is of the opposite party of the Governor. They were tired of getting outflanked by the Governor and his minions. There is a lot of truth to that, but besides all that the power of the legislative branch has diminished. This initiative is an attempt to restore balance between the branches of government, not eliminate the other branches.
This measure is not going to completely fix the problem, because it will never be fixed as long as citizens elect their legislators from the same political parties which elect their executive branch members. This practice end-runs the Founder’s intent with regard to separation of powers. Still, it is a start to returning to the proper balance between the branches, where the People’s Branch is a first among equals.