With another American election behind us, we have once again experienced the uniqueness of our country. Not only has the American system produced the most liberty, prosperity and safety for its people that people anywhere have ever enjoyed, it has produced a nation at peace with itself. Our political and economic disagreements and battles are much like those in other nations, but we settle them peacefully. After an election, the losers do not riot or try to overthrow the government, they simply vow to themselves to do better next time. And the winners do not use the power of government to try to destroy the opposition; rather, they respect the right of the opposition to continue its opposition. Not only that, we never have a truly one party system. Each of the States has authority to choose its own leaders, who very often are of the political party that competes with the party in power in Washington, which itself may have a congress led by members of opposing parties, as is true today.

I would like to address two matters in this article. One, what is it that makes the American system able to operate as it does, hardly ever pleasing anyone perfectly, but at the same time keeping us unified and at peace with one another? The second matter is, where do these ideas come from? The answer to what makes the American system work so well is that it is based on the fundamental principle of a “balance of powers.” This balance of powers in America not only applies to the three major branches of our government, the legislative, executive and judicial, but extends to the states and directly to the people themselves. The idea is simple. No branch of government and no collection of people should ever gain absolute or overwhelming power over the rest. This is obvious in our constitutional three-headed system.

Nevertheless, while we also believe in “one man one vote,” all votes are not always equal in power, nor do they always represent the same numbers of people. In Congress, Representatives represent approximately the same numbers of people, but Senators do not. Indeed, South Dakota with its 800,000 people has exactly the same number of Senators as does California with forty times our population. Having two houses of these natures allows our system to exactly balance the power allotted to population with that allotted to each State. The same thing with somewhat lesser impact applies to the Electoral College, which is the glue that holds the United States together. A president must run well across the country. He cannot simply campaign in populous areas and ignore the rest of us. He must truly be the President of the whole United States and not just a few states. Balance of powers has truly been an idea of genius and resiliency that has made the United States unique in the world.

Finally, we need to note that the fundamental ideas that underlie the American system of government and economics flow out the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, the Bible. While some proclaim that Greece is the “cradle of democracy,” the fact is that the Greeks never elected their kings, while the people of Israel were doing that, starting with king Saul, one thousand years before the Greeks voted on anything. One only has to read the writings of the founders of the United States to see clearly that the most quoted source for their ideas was the Bible. But we can also see that in the founding documents themselves. The Declaration of Independence not only attributes the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to the Creator God, but because they come from God declares them to be “inalienable.” Government’s job, the Declaration declares, is “to secure these rights to the people.” Government should never think it has the power to modify or remove these rights. Needless to say, we must consider it a privilege and treasure to be citizens of this particular nation, the United States of America.

Rev. Robert Grossmann
Providence RCUS, Vermillion, SD

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