Check, please!

You have to feel really low if Trump is chastising you.¹, ²,³

As the year began, behind closed doors the Republican Party voted to weaken the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Now the story has, mostly, blown over with the Republicans walking off stage, tails between their legs.

If you did not know, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was established in the wake of a lobbying scandal in 2008. It was set up to investigate corruption allegations against members of Congress.

The secret vote had it come to fruition would have led to the OCE falling under control of a House committee – specifically there would have been a name change (the Office of Congressional Complaint Review was top pick), and it would have become a subordinate body to the House Ethics Committee, which in this political climate is ruled by the Republican majority. The proposed new body would not have allowed anonymous tips from members of Congress, and nor would it have made its findings from investigations public.

Had this made it through, with the Republicans controlling all three branches of government, another layer of constraint on their powers would have been removed as such a vote would have seriously restricted the power, and ultimately purpose, of the OCE. What this means is that another check would have been dismantled.

Checks and balances allow for the separation of power in government, thus ensuring that no one branch may have too much control. In most cases this divides the Government into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Checks and balances are essential to the security of liberty. John Adams phrases this more eloquently as he speaks of the balancing of these branches of government: “It is by balancing each of these powers against the other two, that the efforts in human nature toward tyranny can alone be checked and restrained, and any degree of freedom preserved in the constitution”.

Our governments need systems, entities, and bodies to question, investigate, and check the branches of power. Because in a world where bodies such as the OCE lose their power, we might be looking at a world where corruption and tyranny can run free.


 

¹By no means do we suggest that the Trumpster should be anyone’s moral compass, after all his concerns were based on what he perceived to be of greater value and not one on ethics: tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance…than the OCE which the Donald thought to be unfair

² I did try to find a link to the original tweet, but seven tweets into the Trumpster’s feed and I was starting to feel a tad queasy

³ Instead, here is Trevor Noah’s take, and here are some quick facts about the OCE

 

 

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