On Democracy & the Division of Power


Aristotle felt that democracy was essentially an unsuccessful endeavor that did not represent the true nature of governance. Aristotle believed many people were unfit to rule, and that people with money and time to concentrate on the best interests of people and country were more fit (the rich). If rulers were poor, they wouldn’t have the time and energy to properly rule; Aristotle believed that democracy was not the best type of government because it allowed anyone to rise to power. The role of a constitution is to lay out the basic tenets of a country or a society, providing rules to prevent disintegration of that country or society (through murder, theft, adultery, or corruption).

The U.S. Constitution is unique because it laid out basic civil rights for the people of the United States. The U.S. Constitution went beyond granting rights by state government, and granted rights based on inherent humanity. The words “unalienable rights” indicate that no one may take these rights away, including the government. The division of power in a government helps with localized problems. Allowing states to decide their own laws and punitive actions can specify them to a certain population, serving its needs faster and better than a unitary system might.

Problems with federal systems include differing opinions on laws. In this sense, unitary government may prevent divides in governance concerns, allowing for greater stability. A federal system is more flexible. I prefer a federal system because I am more familiar with it; I can still see the merits of a unitary system, however. The separation of powers in the U.S. government allows for checks and balances to prevent a tyrannical leader from seizing all the power and making decisions the people do not support. This is the purpose of the three branches of government in the United States. As we have seen in the past three presidential terms, however, this division of power can also stall bills from passing and keep necessary decisions from being made in a timely manner. I would include division of power if I started a government to prevent dictatorships and abuse of power.