Did the Fear of Factions Cause a Grid- Lock?

Factions were a fear to the Founding Fathers, including Madison, because they knew what life was like to be governed by another. They wanted to ensure that as they created a new constitution, the new law of the land, that no single individual or small group of people could rise up and rule over the whole country, oppressing the minority.


Calhoun explains that, “power can only be resisted by power- and tendency by tendency.”  Our Constitution innately prevents factions through its checks and balances. The Senate, the House, and the President must be on the same page in order to change or alter legal life in the United States. This prevents the President, who leads one political party, from having full control, and vice versa.


But did the fear of factions in the 18th century lead to a bigger problem today? The leading parties in the U.S. are extremely polarized and have been for years. Many believe that it is too difficult to get anything accomplished because of the severe checks and balances. Some believe we are in a constant grid- lock.



If the Republican Party holds the Senate, the Democratic Party holds the House, and the President happens to be a moderate, where does that leave us? How much is accomplished?


The benefit to the Founding Fathers’ fear of factions and the tight checks and balances, is a scarcity in reform, making those bills that do pass, of extreme preference and high popularity among the populace (assuming all politicians are acting as agents for their constituencies and voting in their favor). When it takes absolute, extreme cooperation to change the status quo, it prevents laws from constantly changing and puts a serious level of need required to make a change.


So my questions to my fellow bloggers are:

Are there too many checks and balances for a polarized political country to function?

Is it positive, or negative for true change to only occur on occasion?





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1 Response to Did the Fear of Factions Cause a Grid- Lock?

  1. mrs010 says:

    I think this is an interesting post, having thought about the nature of our government’s structure and whether or not the polarization of the parties is healthy or disastrous. The extremes of divided government innately prevent many bills and other legislation from passing, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. The health care bill, for example, was not a widely accepted attempt at reform, and things of that magnitude should be checked by an opposing and opposite viewpoint. The questions you pose are tough, because you have to look at other countries and systems before you can analyze and answer them. France, for example, has an abundance of parties/groups with completely different ideologies, and many times, only a few reform ideas they are fighting for. I don’t know much more about France’s government, but it seems to me that it would be very difficult to solve problems with 14 separate agendas, rather than 2 or 3. I believe change to be gradual, and if extreme bills or reforms were put into place regularly, our country would have a hard time adjusting.

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