November 17, 1999

Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura has said a lot of pretty crazy things lately, and since the news media has dealt with those comments, I'll avoid them. But there is one comment that deserves attention: his belief that the state legislature needs to be streamlined. He is campaigning for a constitutional amendment to establish a unicameral legislature. He believes that is the best way to eliminate government gridlock.

So what's the big deal, you say? Most states have bicameral legislatures, but one state already has a unicameral legislature. So what's one more?

Well, Jesse Ventura believes that eliminating one legislative chamber would "streamline" government and remove the "maze" of choke points. And that's the issue. People like Jesse Ventura and Ross Perot want to streamline government.

As George Will points out in a recent column the word "streamline" is a product of 19th-century enthusiasm for engineering and industrialism. It is a jarring concept when applied to the founders' 18th-century concept of limited government.

When I speak on political theory, I point out that the framers of the Constitution designed government to be inefficient with lots of checks and balances. What Jesse Ventura wants to eliminate is what they intentionally built into the system. They intended that legislation be examined by two sets of eyes in two legislative bodies so that legislation that affects our lives would be thoroughly examined. They intended that there would be checks and balances to prevent one legislative body from asserting too much political power.

G.K. Chesterton once said that before you remove a fence you better ask why it was put there in the first place. Before we begin to remove the fences the framers put up, we might well ask why they put them there in the first place.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.