America's Three-Headed Eagle
I've decided to take it upon myself to learn more about the history of America and what makes America so great and the "envy of the world." A friend recommended a book by W. Cleon Skousen called The 5,000 Year Leap. On pages 24-26 Skousen discussed "America's three-headed eagle." I was amazed at the simplicity and symbolism used to describe the three branches of our government and how they balance each other out on the ruler of law (see picture below).
Polybius, John Locke (no, not from LOST), and Baron Charles de Montesquieu had all advocated the separation of the governmental functions into three departments - legislative, executive, and judicial - the American Founders were the first to carefully structure what might be described as a three-headed eagle.
Quoting Skousen, "The central head was the law-making or legislative function with two eyes - the House and the Senate - and these must both see eye-to-eye on any piece of legislation before it can become law. A second head is the administrative or Executive Department with all authority centered in a single, strong President, operating within a clearly defined framework of limited power. The third head is the judiciary, which was assigned the task of acting as guardian of the Constitution and the interpretation of its principles as originally designed by the Founders."
These functions of government are genius to say the least. It called for the separation of powers, "but the fact that all three heads operated through a single neck. By this means the Founders carefully integrated these three departments so that each one was coordinated with the others and could not function independently of them."
The two wings of the eagle is where I found it most interesting. The Founders viewed Wing #1 as the problem-solving wing or the wing of compassion. Wing #2 as the conservation wing (Left/Right respectively). Referring to Wing #1, "those who function through this dimension of the system are sensitive to the unfulfilled needs of the people. They dream of elaborate plans to solve these problems.
"Wing #2 has the responsibility of conserving the nation's resources and the people's freedoms. It's function is to analyze the programs of wing #1 with two questions. First, can we afford it? Secondly, what will it do the rights and individual freedom of the people?"
Again I am amazed. Amazed that after more than 200 years it still applies today. Probably even more so than ever I dare say. What happens when both wings of the eagle fulfill their purpose? The eagle will fly straighter and higher than any other. The same goes for America. We will "fly straighter and higher than any other civilization in the history of the world." But what happens if one of the wings stop working? According the the Ruler's Law the nation will either drift towards tyranny or anarchy.
Skousen continues, "If wing #1 becomes infatuated with the idea of solving all the problems of the nation regardless of the cost, and wing #2 fails to bring its power into play to sober the problem-solvers with a more realistic approach, the eagle will spin off toward the left, which is tyranny. On the other hand, if wing #1 fails to see the problems which need solving and wing #2 becomes inflexible in its course of not solving problems simply to save money, or not disturb the status quo, then the machinery of the government loses its credibility and the eagle drifts over toward the right where the people decide to take matters into their own hands. This can eventually disintegrate into anarchy."
I often wondered where left and right wing came from in the political arena and wanted to share my new found knowledge. Our Founding Fathers were truly remarkable men with sound understanding and with the inspiration of God were able to come up with our system of government that allows each one of us to have the freedoms that we love and enjoy so much that often we take for granted.