Public expenditure into the hands of a popular

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public expenditure into the hands of a popular assembly, practically sets that assembly to rule the affairs of the nation as supreme overlord.” 36 This he regarded as “the inevitable tendency of every system of self-government” similar to those established by the Constitution. Wilson expressed no particular displeasure with this tendency. Rather his criticisms were directed to the shortcomings of Congress that rendered it incapable of performing its required functions as the institution through which the people would exercise sovereignty. These criticisms were multiple, some relating to the organization and operations of Congress, but the most telling involved the consequences of its separation from the executive branch. While he could understand the Framers’ concerns to insure congressional 34. Some have argued, not without merit, that the president is obliged to speak in lofty, abstract terms to avoid alienating large segments of the electorate, whereas Congressmen, coming from more structured surroundings, represent real, on-going interests. In this sense, they contend, Congress is more representative than the president. See Willmoore Kendall, “The Two Majorities.” Midwest Journal of Political Science , 4 (1960) and James Burnham, Congress and the American Tradition (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1959). 35. An excellent compilation of the major reforms of the Constitution suggested is to be found in Reforming American Government , ed. Donald L. Robinson (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1985). The bulk of the suggested reforms involve abandoning the Framers’ system of separated powers and parallel Wilson’s in seeking to emulate the British parliamentary system. See also in this regard Toward A More Responsible Two-Party System , Report of the Committee on Political Parties of the American Political Science Association, American Political Science Review , 44 (1950), Supplement. This report points to the potentialities of approaching the British parliamentary system through the reform of the political parties. 36. Congressional Government , 203. 274
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independence, he believed that it “deprive[d]” Congress “of the opportunity and means for making its authority complete and convenient.” 37 His concerns and criticisms of the separation of powers related largely to the limited range of Congressional authority. Congress “directs” and “admonishes,” “It issues the order which others obey,” “but,” he lamented “it does not do the actual heavy work of governing.” 38 From his perspective, “the only really self-governing people is that people which discusses and interrogates its administration,” functions which Congress must perform on behalf of the sovereign people but cannot given the division of powers. The responsibilities of Congress, then, should go far beyond articulating “the will of the nation” to include “superintending all matters of government.” 39 In short, Congress needs the authority to give direction over how
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  • Fall '16
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  • Separation of Powers

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