The founders of America divided the government into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The legislative branch makes laws declaring that certain acts are crimes. The executive branch identifies people who have committed crimes. The judicial branch sets the punishment for each criminal.
The founders of America thought that the primary function of government is to punish criminals. The founders of America divided the government into three branches to prevent the government from abusing the power to punish criminals. No person can be punished unless all three branches agree that the person is a criminal and should be punished. The legislative branch can prevent the punishment of a person by declaring that the actions of that person are legal. The executive branch can prevent the punishment of a person by refusing to accuse that person of any crimes. The judicial branch can prevent the punishment of any person by refusing to set a punishment for that person.
Suppose that the executive branch wants to punish a person, even though that person has not broken any of the laws of the legislative branch. The judicial branch should refuse to set a punishment for that person. But supposed the judicial branch does set a punishment for that person. The executive and judical branches have usurped the powers of the legislative branch.
Suppose that the judicial branch wants to punish a person, even though the executive branch does not want to punish that person, and even though that person has not broken any of the laws of the legislative branch. The judicial branch waits for an enemy of that person to file a lawsuit against that person, and then the judicial branch finds that person guilty and sets a punishment for that person. The judicial branch has usurped the powers of the executive and legislative branches.
To prevent such abuse by the executive and judicial branches, the founders of America gave the legislative branch additional powers over the executive and judicial branches. The prosecutors of the executive branch and the judges of the judicial branch must be approved by the legislative branch, and can be impeached by the legislative branch.
Also, the executive branch is often involved in changing laws, so the executive branch is often involved in legislative functions.
Also, the judicial branch interprets laws and sets precedents, which is similar to making laws, which is a legislative function.
Also, the executive branch includes various departments which make regulations and judge people who violate the regulations, so the executive branch usurps the powers of the legislative and judicial branches.
Also, fiscal policy (taxing and spending) and foreign policy do not fit into the categories of legislative, executive, and judicial. The founders of America did not anticipate that in the twentieth century the government of America would do more fiscal policy and foreign policy than criminal justice.
So the three branches of government are intertwined, not seperate.
So the seperation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers in the american central government is fake. But the fake division of the american central government into legislative, executive, and judicial branches works. Why?
First, the structure of the american central government divides power among many people, and limits the power which any one person can acquire.
Second, the various members of the government become members of the government in different ways. Some are elected according to one set of rules, some are elected according to a different set of rules, some are appointed, some are hired. The selection process for one government position may favor one personal quality or ideology. The selection process for a different government process may favor a different personal quality or ideology. Diversity of selection processes results in diversity of personal qualities and ideologies.
Third, the division of the government into branches causes members of the government to work more closely with other members of the same branch than with members of other branches. Thus, members of the government will identify with and bond with their branch of the government. Members of the government will treat other members of the same branch as members of the tribe, and will treat members of other branches as not members of the tribe. Members of the government will subconciously assume that other members of their branch are friends and members of other branches are enemies. As a result, members of the government will tolerate corruption and incompetence in their own branch, but will not tolerate corruption and incompetence in other branches. Each branch of government will fight corruption and incompetence in other
branches of government.
Most people think that the american central government has three branches, but one could argue that there are more branches. The Senate and the House of Representatives have slightly different election rules and different districts, so the Senate and House are like seperate branches.
Also, the government departments and agencies, state governments, political parties, charities, think tanks, and other public service organizations sometimes act like seperate branches of government. (This is good.) But these are a different type of branch, and are not the subject of this essay.
Some people think that the structure of the american government is too complicated. It would be easier to change government policy if the government was simpler. Sometimes the government enacts a policy which favors some special interest, and every member of the government says some other member of the government did it. A complex government structure makes it easier to hide corruption. But the complexity of the government is an important part of the checks and balances. The government must not be simplified too much, or it will be too easy for corrupt or incompetent politicians to enact stupid policies which destroy the nation.
Many political activists want to change election rules to benefit themselves. It is difficult to make election rules which are completely fair. (Fortunately, it also difficult to make election rules which are extremely unfair. Most elections are only a little bit unfair.) If the government is divided into branches, and if each branch has different election rules, then it is easier to make elections more fair, because each branch can have a different bias, and the different biases might cancel each other out.
All governments should be divided into branches, and each branch should have different election rules or a different selection process.
I suggest that one branch should be elected with proportional representation and one branch should consist of members chosen by local governments.
The division of powers among branches is less important. Most constitutions assign different powers to different branches. But is this really needed?
For example, the american government has an independent judiciary. (The judges are partly independent from the rest of the government, but the judges are not completely independent because the judges are dependent on the rest of the government for appointment, salary, promotion, and can be impeached.) The independent judiciary developed in England in the middle ages. The independent judiciary was good because the independent judiciary limited the power of the king. An independent judiciary does two things: the power to judge is seperated from the power to make laws and prosecute criminals, and another branch of government is created. Which is more important, seperating powers or creating another branch of government? What part of the benefits of an independent judiciary are the result of the creation of another branch of government? What part of the benefits of an independent judiciary are the result of the seperation of powers?
I think that creating another branch of government is more important than seperating powers. I think that all of the benefits of an independent judiciary are the result of the creation of another branch of government. I think that none of the benefits of an independent judiciary are the result of the seperation of powers.
What if the government was divided into branches, and the members of each branch was selected in a different way, and if every branch shared every power? To make a law, most or all branches would have to agree to make the law. To prosecute a criminal, most or all branches would have to agree to prosecute the criminal. To judge a criminal, most or all branches would have to agree on the judgement. To spend money, most or all branches would have to agree to spend the money. To make a treaty or war with another nation, most or all branches would have to agree to make the treaty or war. The government would delegate some minor lawmaking, most routine prosecutions, and most routine judging to lower government officials. Different departments would have different powers, so seperation of powers would exist at lower levels of government, but not at upper levels of government. All branches of government together would be the supreme lawmaker, the supreme prosecutor, and the supreme court. I think this government will work.
I do not know of any examples of a government of this type. So I cannot prove that this government will work, but you cannot prove that this government will not work either. This experiment has never been tried.