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View Diary: I wish this were only a book review (216 comments)

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  •  I think I may (7+ / 0-)

    disagree with one of the core aspects of his thesis--that "checks and balances" are the key to our constitution (as opposed to "balance of power").  Dividing governmental power into three components that "check" each other was Montesquieu's idea, as I understand it. It's a basic part of our kind of government, but not unique to it. Our framers had a new idea:  balance of powers--between state governments and federal government.  The purpose of that was to maintain the new system in perpetuity--to make sure power lasted, not to limit it.

    Fast forward 200 years...a movement emerges that finds a way to eliminate that principle. Problems ensue.

    Despite that general question I have, Gore's book is still going on my summer reading list.

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    ***Buy my book, support progressive writing! Framing the Debate, in stores now...

    by Jeffrey Feldman on Sun May 27, 2007 at 06:26:33 AM PDT

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    •  My reading of history (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, Judge Moonbox

      Indicates the "balance of power" and the "checks and balances" both were based on the enlightened idea that it was possible to replace the existing power struggle in the world, between monarchs, the church and local warlords (nobles), with representative bodies that allowed the different institutions to weild power without it concentrating in one branch, and replaced the armed contention among the old forms with the politics of the new.

      The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

      by NCrefugee on Sun May 27, 2007 at 06:59:23 AM PDT

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      •  That's only part of it (2+ / 0-)
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        The Federal Constitution--what we typically just refer to as "The Constitution"--was written not just in that broad context, but more specifically in the context of  the already written state constitutions that preceded it.  The state constitutions had already applied the checks and balances fix.  The innovation of the federal convention was precisely the way it dealt with the problem of bringing all the newly constituted state systems into one overarching system without destroying the parts or the whole. And that is where the balance of power logic emerged--the idea of a system enhanced  and  perpetuated, rather than weakened, power.

        ---
        ***Buy my book, support progressive writing! Framing the Debate, in stores now...

        by Jeffrey Feldman on Sun May 27, 2007 at 07:51:09 AM PDT

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        •  But the state constitutions (0+ / 0-)

          included (in many cases) the official participation of the church in leftover language from the colonial constitutions (or whatever those various documents were called). The establishment clause in the first amendment was added to rectify this and specifically exclude the church from the government and vice versa.

          The original language of the core constitution implied this but was a bit too subtle for some states at the beginning of the 19th century.

          The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

          by NCrefugee on Sun May 27, 2007 at 09:51:57 AM PDT

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