Of course the phrase is "checks AND balances." So what are we really balancing?
Former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton writes in his book How Congress Works and Why You Should Care, an excellent description of those points of view that we must balance in order for democracy to work.
The founders went to great lengths to balance institutions against each other--balancing powers among the three branches: Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court; between the House of Representatives and the Senate; between the federal government and the states; among states of different sizes and regions with different interests; between the powers of government and the rights of citizens, as spelled out in the Bill of Rights.Hamilton also says that the founders took into account balancing interest groups against each other.
For those of you who think that government moves slowly, be thankful that government moves at all. It is almost mind-blowing to think that a document produced in 1789 could still be balancing the powers of government in the year 2005.