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How To Keep The Government in Check

Government is the most important aspect of any state or country, most of the successful countries have a good kind of governance and that means good leaders who prioritize the interests of citizen before their interests first. The type of government citizens of a country have will basically determine the success of their country in terms of developments in education, transport, health and the technological sectors. Good leaders with good qualities and impeccable characteristics will always try to take his/ her country forward rather than stagnating it in the name of leading people for the better (Ritchie, 2010). A government where corruption, embezzlement, nepotism and self-interest is the order of the day will always lag behind in terms of development, citizens who are liberal minded should always use their votes as their weapon to eject these kind of leaders from power. I believe it’s every US citizen’s democratic right to participate in decision making involving how the country is governed, apart from voting being a way of making decision, voting is a democratic right of every US citizen and everybody should always be obliged to participate in the exercise. Voting the corrupt leaders and of self- interest out is the only way on how we can remove them from power and inject new blood in the government that can bring about development.

For a government to perform to its best for the benefit of its citizen there is need to keep it on check. Basically in every country we have the opposition which their primary function is to act as a watchdog, meaning the opposition is there to see whether the government is accomplishing its promises to people. Like for instance, before a government ascended into power, it promised that a specific number of jobs will be created on an yearly basis, so the opposition will always keep the government in toss to ensure this promise is kept. Opposition can play an oversight role and criticize any activity the government is undertaking and they feel that the activity is not being done openly. Such incidences are common in the procurement and awarding tenders to various companies. Opposition always keeps their democratic participation alive by checking the activities of the government and this may be beneficial to them in terms of increasing their chances of winning the next polls. It’s a common happening that after every election, politicians will always distant themselves from the citizens compared to the campaigning time when they were close, especially to those in the government. Opposition should always utilize this opportunity to be close to people and assure them to make the government fully perform its roles. Another important role of opposition in keeping government on check is to ensure the government account for its omissions and commissions, opposition can point cases of corruption and nepotism which is important to ensure the government is transparent in all its activities and operations.

The United States government has three branches, which is Executive, judiciary and the congress or the legislature, all these three branches of the government have their own described role and a system of check and balance ensures that no any branch of the government has more powers than the other. (Fisher, 2011) The use constitution is complex that it limits the power of the legislature that is senate and the House of Representatives, so these groups of elected leaders cannot make laws without enough approval that allows them to do so. The constitution further provides ways on how executive and judiciary can hold congress responsible for its actions; constitution is the most important document in keeping all the three branches of the government in check.  Constitution provides presidential roles on how he / she can keep the congress in check because the president is the key decision maker in the executive and he’s the one mandated by the constitution to execute laws made by the congress. President always has the final say over the laws passed by the congress, that’s why the congress will always try to make those laws that are appealing to president are laws that he would like to consider signing. In some cases the senate can go against the president’s decision about a specific law by two thirds of the majority votes. Supreme Court has an important role in keeping congress in check, for instance, Supreme Court can rule against the laws already passed by the congress. If the court feels that the law passed violate the civil rights of some individuals or it was passed when there was a pending matter on the same laws in court, in that case the Supreme Court will rule against that law. This can confirm why most of the congress members cannot pass laws that favor their own or constituent’s interests without considering future reversal of such laws by the court. The United States constitution does not provide any term limit for senators or representatives, but reelection requires them to deliver the demands of their constituents before they get reelected again.(Fisher, 2011) This makes the senators and representatives more accountable during their era in power and the voters turn out during the voting exercise will always help keeping the senate and representatives in check. The constitution only allows each state to elect two senators to serve in congress for a period of six years term and the number of representatives always depends on the state’s population and each representative is mandated to serve a two year term. However, check and balances can at times leads to battle between the executive and the congress or the congress and the judiciary. Sometimes the battle can force the senators and representatives to negotiate come into an agreement and work together for the best interest of the country. A constitution is an important document as far as checks and balance is concerned, it provides role for each branch of the government and also simultaneously state how these roles can be implemented without any conflict between the branches of the government, and in case of any incident of conflict, it also provides  a way in which the branches can cooperate to work together, for instance the earlier mentioned dialogued between the senate and representatives to work together for the best of the country.

The constitution sates that the federal government only has powers granted to it by the constitution and the tenth amendment of the constitution leaves the rest of the powers with the state or the people, this tenth amendment provides citizens with power to provide a serious check to the government. The US house of representatives has the powers to check on the top federal officials in the government who engages in treason, bribery or other crimes which undermines the law. This power applies to impeachment of president, vice president and any judges involved in bad behaviors while holding a public office. I believe no president wishes for impeachment because it will remain a bad history for the country and a bad reputation for even the president involved. In an impeachment motion in the congress, Chief justice has a role in keeping the congress in check by checking and ensuring that the senate operates within its powers.  Since the Vice president of the United States serves as the senate’s president, he has a role in keeping them on check as the executive branch of the government. (Ogul, 2001) Despite being the president of the senate, the vice president is restricted to vote in the senate unless the senate is tied, and in such a case the Vice President can vote. Constitution provides president with powers to appoint the federal justice team including the judges to offer services in the courts; president is also mandated to appoint the executive officers for example directors, ambassadors and cabinet secretaries. Here comes the role of the senate in checking the president’s powers, the senate must approve the presidents  appointees with the majority votes and this help to regulate the powers of the president and avoidance of favoring some individuals in appointments.

Government is there for citizens and citizens are there for the government and because of this, I believe citizens have a role to play in keeping the government in check to ensure they are served to their perfection. Citizens can always keep the government in check through their local elected leaders, one of the major ways that could be used by the citizen to keep the government in check is by asking questions; I believe local leaders such as the representatives always have forums with their constituents to talk about the development progress, weaknesses and ways on how they can improve. Citizens should always use such platforms and opportunities to ask questions on where they feel they are not satisfied; they can talk about corruption and unfair distribution of resources. Citizens should not only raise the problems affecting them within their local levels, but they should also talk about the national problems, the congress member can take the national problem and raise it in the congress for a debate and therefore change can be achieved in that process. Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, citizen can keep their government in check through petitioning it for a problem or something that was promised and was not delivered.(Keefe, 2001)  Through taxes paid by the citizens, federal governments are able to raise money for the operations, if citizens feel that they don’t prefer the way their current federal government is doing things, they can keep it on check by refusal to pay taxes because it is the right of the citizens to be served by their federal government. The declaration of the independence explicitly states that, “it is their right and even their duty to overthrow the government that usurps powers.” The constitution provides citizens with a right to keep and bear arms should they feel that the government need to be overthrown, a government that do not perform and ruled in tyranny are the kind of governments that could be easily thrown by the citizens.

In conclusion, people should not always be ignorant about their roles within the government because the government is brought about by citizens and this same government serves the citizen. From all these I believe that every individual should always participate in their government either by voting or any other process that can keep their leaders in check.

  • Ritchie, D, A. (2010). The U.S. Congress: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford University press.
  • Fisher, L, (2011). Defending Congress and the constitution. Lawrence, Kan: University of Kansas
  • Keefe, W. J., & Ogul, M, S. (2001). The American Legislative process: congress and the states.

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