The Great Power Unstruggle of 2017

Every organization has an organizational chart which denotes a hierarchy of authority.  While sometimes the lines don’t always tell the story,  they are usually pretty dependable.    However, our nation’s organizational chart tells a very different story.  It was created as a reaction to a hierarchical system in which absolute power resided at the top.  Uniquely, it sought to create a structure that prevents any individual or institution from having absolute power.  Instead it created a system of checks and balances that requires that power be shared.  The creators of this system were so aware of the potential for power grabs that they built into the system remedies such as vetoes and veto overrides. The Courts have had their decisions overturned through the appeals process and Constitutional amendments.  For decades there have been claims from Congress that the Executive Branch was usurping power and claims from the Executive Branch the Congress was preventing legislative progress. It seems that each of the three branches of government have complained about the other branches usurping their prerogatives, but I guess that means the system is working and that no single branch feels that it has unlimited power. However, what if the system stops working because the branches ( in this case the Executive Branch and Legislative Branches) appear unable to function?

In order for the Executive Branch and the Congress to function there needs to exist a symbiotic relationship between them.  Precisely, they need to provide sustenance to each other while not diminishing each other in order to function. When there is a perception by both that neither is fulfilling their end of the bargain, the relationship cannot exist.  In this circumstance, unlike many in the past, the Executive Branch seems to be unable to provide guidance and leadership regarding legislative initiatives, and the Congress seems unable to initiate legislative solutions, of its own, to resolve perceived issues.  There is a lack of power in each branch thus causing a complete lack of progress.  In part this is caused by total inexperience  and lack of awareness of the legislative process in the Executive branch. There was genuine surprise in the Trump White House when attempts at bullying Congress fell flat. There was shock in Congress when the White House seemed to be uninterested in the detailed process of creating legislation.  Each branch seemed to build barriers and avoid becoming intimately involved with the processes of the other.  Thus the symbiotic relationship, so necessary for legislative initiative to succeed has broken down. In addition the relationship between President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell has turned toxic further poisoning the relationship between the Executive and Legislative Branches.

It appears that neither the Congress nor the Executive Branch is capable of picking up the reins of power and moving normal governmental processes forward. They are both floundering while playing serious games of palace intrigue.  There is blame enough to go around while at the same time nothing is getting done. Everyone is ducking and trying to avoid being targeted.  All of this is going on against the backdrop of the pervasive Russia Investigation.  In short, everyone is too busy protecting themselves to worry about protecting or serving the country.  There is not a struggle for power, but rather a struggle to stay in power.  Each branch is so broken that its inhabitants are not concerned with national service but rather self-service.  To control the reins of power now means having to take responsibility for decisions.  Trump blames his predecessors or the press for all that is bad.  Congressional leadership blames either the other party or an arm of its own party for failure to accomplish anything. No one is willing to take responsibility.

We have a power vacuum caused by an unstruggle for power.  Who will ultimately fill it?


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