Political competition between the executive branch and the legislative branch of our government is built into the framework of the checks and balance system created by the constitution. There have been times when one or the other takes supremacy. We have several “strong” presidents and other times when legislative leaders have used their influence to swing the balance toward legislative power.
There are many examples of this swing. Andrew Jackson’s administration led to a weakened presidency for years after. The assassination of Lincoln resulted in 'Radical Reconstruction”, a run-away-Congress and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. A reactionary Senate and their refusal to have the US join the League of Nations hamstrung Woodrow Wilson.
Any analysis of the swings of political power usually includes value judgments concerning their outcomes. We can certain theorize that the reaction to Jackson's strong Presidency led to the Civil War, since his highly nationalistic administration caused a swing to a more “states rights” legislative supremacy. Radical Reconstruction put race relations on the back burner for a hundred years.
We now appear to be beginning a new swing with the second Bush presidency marking a transitional period. After the 2010 election a large group of radical “tea party” adherents, mostly in the Republican Party, have begun to exert Legislative dominance. Unfortunately, the periods of legislative dominance are, as our history indicates, creates negative outcomes for the nation. What happens is that these individuals exert local parochial interests, which usually are not national and lead to stagnation.
With the new Congress, led by Boehner and Cantor, both buying into the “tea party” histrionics, and opportunistically gaining personal power, we are being pushed back into sectionalism. Sectionalism that can only lead to disruptive class warfare. Just listen to words of many of those new and their opportunistic allies. The only compromise is to shrink the government. The states can do it better. We must go all out to support the most productive of us. Federal taxes destroy jobs.
When I observed Virginia's Cantor and his actions during the past brouhaha, I am reminded of the child who gets a bad call from the referee and picks up his basketball and goes home. Unfortunately, that behavior is more than just juvenile. It shows a basic disrespect for the President and no matter who the President is, the Presidency deserves respect. If our President were really as authoritarian as Boehner and Cantor say he is, he would never allow the legislative branch to have the power they do over his presidency. As this legislative/executive pendulum swings, we are just left in the pits.