The American constitutional system includes a notion known as the Separation of Powers. In this system, several branches of government are created and power is shared between them. At the same time, the powers of one branch can be challenged by another branch. This is what the system of checks and balances is all about. The basis behind checks and balances is to prevent the government from becoming too powerful in one branch. For example, the Executive Branch can veto bills from the Legislative Branch, but the Legislative Branch can override the veto. This system is applied primarily in constitutional governments. This article shares interconnected ideas with the Greek historian, Polybius. He analyzed the “ancient Roman mixed constitution under three main divisions: monarchy (represented by the consul); aristocracy (the Senate); and democracy (the people)” (quote from article) and proposed many ideas regarding the separation of powers that greatly influenced future monarchies and cultures. His writings were influential among Montesquieu who created the frame for the US Constitution. “Monarchy first changes into its vicious allied form, tyranny; and next, the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and when the commons inflamed by anger take vengeance on this government for its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the license and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series.” This quote by Polybius, in essence, describes the flaws of different types of governments that don’t incorporate checks and balances and separations of powers. The consequences of governments like monarchies, aristocracies, and oligarchies create the potential for mob- rule that can be avoided if governments dont hold too much power above its people and dont make decisions on their own but ask for approval among other branches and its people. This audience of this article is aimed to those who would like to be informed of the different types of governments and where the foundations of the US Constitution originated from (Polybius).
MLA: “Checks and Balances.” Britannica Online Academic Edition (2017): Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Web.
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