How to Guard Against Tyranny
How the Founding Fathers Distributed the Power
- Federalism is a component of government that allows the government to have many layers, like a cake! There is the base, like the solid support of the cake, the federal government. Next, there are state governments creating the thinner upper layers of the cake divided by the central frosting layer which represents the regional differences between the states. Finally, local governments make up the frosting on top--securing the entire government in an unbreakable interlock of power distribution. This is one of the best components of government because it allows for maximum stability. The central government doesn't hold all the cards because too much power in one place is dangerous for the people. Only the power the central government should have is given to them like foreign relations and governmetn services while more personal, regionally-variant issues are given to the state governments. Some powers are shared by the state and national governments. The local governments do have some power but not as significant as the other two layers of government. The local governments still are necessary for even more personal, regionally-varient issues like school budgets and local events.
Separation of Powers
Separation of powers is what the title suggests--the power that is given to that layer of government whether it be the federal, state or local governments (I wrote about this in the previous paragraph) had to be distributed further into sections that focused on specific topics or components of the government or peoples' functionality. The National government was split into 3 distinct "branches:" Executive (enforce laws); Judicial (interpret laws); Legislative (make laws). This is important because in order for a decision to be a good idea that is just and fair for the whole of the country, it needs to be looked at from multiple perspectives and, more importantly, one person doesn't have the capacity to make fair decisions on things he/she aren't specialized in.
Checks and Balances
An issue that arises with a government with separated branches is there is no constant "flow" of power which would allow one branch to accumulate a power distributing it over to the other branches. Checks and balances allow the branches to interfere with another to a certain extent. This allows a constant leveling of power over the branches. Examples of this include the President choosing Supreme Court justice or impeaching a law proposed by Congress. The President isn't negatively pushing the Judicial Branch down in power, but he/she is making sure the justice he/she chooses is a good one and if not the Legislative Branch can deny the choice the President makes. The second example is shows how the President has power over the decisions the Legislative Branch makes.
Big States vs. Small States
An early issue in the making of the Constitution was which proposal would be implemented into the format of the Legislative Branch. One plan wanted there to be one sub-branch where the representatives would be the same for every state (2) while the conflicting opinion was for two sub-branches where representatives for both sub-branches would be based on their state's population. The arguing was ended by a compromise that said the new Legislative branch would be split into two sub-branches with one having its number of delegates based off each states population (called Congress) while the other sub-branch would be have the same amount of representatives from each state (called Senate). This allowed for the small states that were worried the power would be taken away from the little states and horded by the big states to have say in the government, and this allowed for a person in a big state to be represented equally in Congress as a person in a small state.