Good Bones

I’ve been trying to think of a Thanksgiving message suitable for this blog. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could list off all the things I’m thankful for in our political system, all the things that are looking up, that give me hope?
Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to that point. I’m not feeling particularly hopeful at the moment.
What I am feeling, however, is an underlying sense of trust. Not trust in the individuals that make up (or will make up) our government, but rather trust in the structure our framers built for us. It has good bones
Over the past eight years, half of our country has grown fearful of an all-powerful executive, a president who governs by fiat. Now the other half will know that fear. But our country’s founders knew it too, and they had it in mind when they designed our spread-out, clunky system.
Our laws are made at multiple levels: city, county, state, national. A seemingly countless number of electorates make decisions, based on the particularities of their location and make-up, on who governs them and how.
Then each level has its own set of checks and balances, and the higher you look, the more elaborate their arrangement. Our president is checked by Congress and the judiciary. Congress needs the president and is checked by the judiciary. The president needs Congress too. The judiciary is appointed by the president and requires the approval of (part of) Congress.
Executive agencies, legislative bodies, and the courts form an immense, complicated machine, wherein one cog can bravely (or stubbornly) decide to put a stop to the whole thing. Our system is better designed to stop than to do, and for one who fears the direction of a new government, that should be a comfort.
(Conservatives saw the value in that uncooperative-cog concept in the last administration; liberals will undoubtedly see it this time.)
So as worrisome as political developments may seem, I retain my basic trust in that spread-out, clunky system. I may disagree with the people who make it up, I may see few prospects for positive developments, but I trust that if things become truly dangerous, some sticky cog will get in the way.
God bless those sticky cogs.
And thank goodness for those good bones.
A happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! May you find yourself as full and food-happy as I’m sure to be after my (massive, just about ridiculous) meal with fifty of my closest family members. But may you also find yourself considerably more relaxed and peaceful than I’ll be. Just kick back and laugh at the thought of me chasing my four over-excited little children through that crowd!
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Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.