Carnes: When it comes to democracy and keeping government in check, it’s all about balance (column) |

Carnes: When it comes to democracy and keeping government in check, it’s all about balance (column)

Richard Carnes
My View

I am happy Republicans kept the Senate.

I am happy Democrats took over the House.

Balance is the key to democracy, and we toss the word “checks” in the mix as well, but they basically mean the same thing.

It’s our Constitution’s way of playing “rock, paper, scissors” on a federal level, allowing each branch of government to amend or veto acts of another branch to prevent any one branch from wielding too much power.

And it works, most of the time.

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Yeah, I’m all for balance, especially the way it keeps government in check, with someone constantly looking over another’s shoulder.

Everything in nature is about balance, such as when you stretch one leg before skiing. You wouldn’t consider turning down the hill before stretching the other one, right?

And once you start, lean too far in either direction and your run turns into a yard sale — same on a mountain bike.

Imbibe too much at night and your body forces you to balance out the lack of hydration with extra water the following morning. Either that or you “call Ralph” and suffer even more, but eventually your body will balance out.

For that matter I constantly switch between Fox News and MSNBC to stay relatively balanced (mentally) on the latest imbecilic words coming from the White House.

I admit, though, it’s always bothered me that “yin and yang” don’t have the same number of letters.

The opposite is extremism, which, in any form, is catastrophic and always leads to misery.

Nothing in nature follows extremes, as everything follows a balanced pattern — eventually, but pay attention to the extremists on both sides of American politics at the moment.

The extreme left wants to keep finding and counting votes in Florida but is OK with letting things go in Arizona, while the extreme right wants to let things go in Florida but keep finding and counting votes in Arizona.

As frustrating as it is to watch, eventually they’ll balance each other out.

Some extremist have the narcissistic talent to balance themselves out, such as last month when Trump told reporters, “I know Matt Whitaker,” and then last week he told some of those very same reporters, “I don’t know Matt Whitaker.”

Confusing, yes, but in a weird way it balances out the scales of the American public’s confusion.

Sure, we’re just as confused, but still.

Or imagine President Obama refusing to show his tax returns, claiming, “people would not understand it.”

He never said any such thing, of course, and neither did any of his predecessors, but the statement (or lack thereof) was balanced out by his successor just last week.

Again, confusing, but in a weird way it provides a level of balance, perhaps one never achieved before in American politics (and never experienced again, I hope).

So the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the federal government will always keep each other in balance as long as our current rules of democracy are kept in place, and this is certainly applicable between the House, the Senate and the White House.

Whether or not anything actually will be accomplished, however, is a different story.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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