This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Government by committee

My ancestors, the Puritans, really didn't like the idea of governmental power being in the hands of one person. They rejected the notion that a King had power over people because he was appointed by God. In fact, 300 years later, the idea of getting messages directly from God and guiding a country by those messages just seems a little, well, crazy.

The United States of America set up a government by committee. It functions like a large company with a board of directors who are responsible to the shareholders. It even has a president, which is the term that George Washington insisted on, who is the single person whom the general public sees as being in charge. But the president, both of large companies, and of The United States, isn't in charge. And that is the whole point.

The people who run the government in the United States are the groups of people whose names we don't really know, exactly like a company's board of directors. The president has the power to suggest things, but that's about it. That's why the most influential presidents have been good communicators, and good persuaders.

This robust system, put in place in 1783, is not easily tipped. The president of the United States is not a King. If he tries to take too much power, there are checks and balances to get him out of there. Many presidents over the years have made grabs for power, but the "board of directors" - the Congress, pushes back. It's a system that has been designed from the beginning to discourage too much power in the hands of one person.

And if it moves a little slow at times, well, that's government by committee!
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