Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.

The purpose of Extraordinary Edition is being revisited for winter, headed into 2013. U.S. foreign policy, Central Asia and the Middle East remain key focal points. Economics and culture on your front doorstep are coming into focus here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Party Dominance and the Separation of Powers

[This post is originally part of the blog Statesubterfuge, which was very different in intent from Extraordinary Edition; therefore some discontinuity exists between this entry and those that follow]

Tuesday, November 2 is a peak on the graph of political curiosity in the U.S. Not until we return to the lead up to the first November Tuesday in 2012 (and maybe not even then) will persons of every background and walk of life turn their eyes to events and ideas in the political realm, unable to look away for more than a few hours at a time.

The New York Times reports today, amid analysis of hardened foreign policy outlooks offered by each candidate, that Democrats could find their party in a position of control in the event of a Barack Obama victory, a set of circumstances House Speaker Nancy Pelosi alluded to at the onset of the primaries.

“The possibility of a victory by Senator Barack Obama combined with significant Congressional gains by his party could give Democrats extraordinary muscle to pursue an ambitious agenda on health care, taxes, union rights, energy and national security. Democrats, who are within reach of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster in the Senate, would also face high expectations, especially from the party’s more liberal quarters, that could be difficult to meet even with enhanced numbers in the Senate as well as the House. And they would be at risk of overreaching, a tendency that has deeply damaged both parties in similar situations in the past.”

Living in the world of Bush, one might not be too quick to point out that with power comes responsibility. The extensive mocking of focus groups by Bush and Cheney suggests to the contrary that the winners take all while the losers can sit by and wait it out until power shifts at the end of the next two-year cycle.

Still, if the suggestion marks a political reality both sides of the aisle will take notice.

“Armed with polls that raise the possibility of decisive wins in House and Senate races, Congressional Republicans are trying to turn the situation to their advantage, warning voters about unchecked one-party government and urging them to split their tickets to deny Democrats unfettered control. The Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, issued warnings about one-party control as he campaigned Friday and Saturday.”

If we are truly not panicked as the election winds down over its last nine days, thinking calmly and rationally about a United States that will in either outcome be lead by a very powerful party as old as the nation itself, what we might ask is how this system came to be designed to operate with, say, an executive, an upper house, a lower house and a Supreme Court stacked with party members who share the ideology of one national committee? Does party dominance undermine the fundamental democratic concept of the separation of powers?

To address these questions, we will be taking a look at the concept itself, the separation of powers, which we know as the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Credited with the foundational work on the theory is Charles de Montisquieu, who relied upon lessons of the Roman republic and was influenced by Greek political thought dating to the Second Century. Montisquieu contributed to the Constitutional Convention adopted in Philadelphia in September of 1787.

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