Tuesday March 3, 2015
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You know you've won the debate, Don, when your opponent attacks the messenger and completely ignores the message. Excellent rebuttal!
In Mr JB Shelvin's thoughtful reply on December 9 to my earlier remarks, he admonishes Washington, D.C., for not adhering to the limitations of the Tenth Amendment, wherein the powers not delegated to the Federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the States. He rightly condemns countless Executive Branch agency-level regulatory actions - rules with the force of law - that have no constitutional legitimacy, and concludes with the classic bumper-sticker slogan: "Our Constitution is NOT a list of suggestions!"
I couldn't agree with him more, as long as he is not suggesting that simply pointing to existing law and demanding compliance is enough. The Supreme Court looks at existing law and exploits it every day, finding loopholes in the beautiful but often vague and ambiguous language of the Constitution, creating more power and authority for the Federal government, power that the Founders never envisioned nor intended, allowing interference in public education, land use and building codes, water resources, energy production, medical and health issues, lending practices, the possession and sale of firearms, and voting rights, just to name a few.
Those loopholes can be closed, the language can be clarified, and the original intent of the Framers of that great document can be restored.
But it can only be done publicly, openly, in the free marketplace of ideas… a national Article V amendments convention led by our state legislatures, the government closest to “We, the People.” Examine and support the Convention of States Project.
It can happen, Tom, but only if we make it happen.
We currently have a crop of state senators and representatives who support the idea of a state-led Article V amendments convention to propose issues like Term Limits for federal officials, including judges; a Balanced Budget Budget Amendment, and Campaign Finance Reform, just to name a few. Since each of these issues effectively reduces the power and jurisdiction of the establishment, there is no way that these matters are ever going to be addressed voluntarily by Congress.
The problem I see is not with garnering support for the legislation - which at this point is simply a bill to add Arizona's vote to those of other states applying to Congress for a convention - but with our Republican "leadership" in the state senate.
The bill has not been allowed to come up for debate, let alone a floor vote, because leadership is beholden to the establishment... they prefer the status quo rather than allowing a debate on genuine reform. I suppose this is to expected from career politicians of either party affiliation, but it's discouraging to see this in someone who attests to being a "constitutional conservative."
There is hope, though, if enough who care do as suggested in the OP... call or eMail our representatives and encourage them to fight leadership on this issue, to stand up for what's right, not necessarily politically, but constitutionally. If those members know we are behind them, they will act. Without our support and encouragement, Arizona may be left behind as other states take the lead in this historic national movement.
Last year down at the Capitol, this same legislation passed in the House, but failed in the Senate due to "fear" of the senate president... that is to say, his own fear. He says publicly that he is "afraid" of the decisions that might come out of an amendments convention, when all that can possibly come out are proposals... suggested amendments that would then be further debated by the legislatures of all 50 states and either rejected or ratified.
It's the way the Founders designed our government to work, and he is afraid. We call this leadership?
The votes are there in both chambers. They were there last session and this year is no different, maybe even better. The bill will be introduced soon in the House, and it will pass. It will then be reported out to the Senate where its fate will rest with the President who may or may not assign it to committee. It seems to me to be something less than the American Way for one man to be in a position to decide whether or not my senator and yours and every other duly elected member of that chamber will or will not have an opportunity to debate this issue.
The members can stand up and demand that he calendar the bill... but only if we stand up and let them know that's what we want them to do.
This is our country, Tom, our government... unless we've forgotten.
Just over 2¼ centuries ago, the Founders of this nation created a new form of governance and enshrined its tenets in our Constitution. That document not only set forth the individual rights of each citizen, but it also established the federal government and charged it with defending and protecting those rights.
There are those today who would accuse our federal government of overreaching its authority, who say that it’s out of control, who complain that Washington, D.C., is no longer responsive to the wants and needs of the states. Well, here’s a quick test for the accuracy of those charges – ask yourself if the majority of the most recent actions of the federal government have been, as required by the Constitution, to defend and protect the rights of its citizens, or have the majority of its actions been to limit them, to diminish them, to reduce or abridge them?
If your honest answer is the same as mine, then you’ll be relieved to know that the Founders of this great nation predicted that this day would come, that in its drive to amass centralized power, the federal government would eventually place itself beyond the reach of the states.
Thankfully, they provided a remedy – Article V – to be used by the state legislatures to cure any defects identified during the course of self-governance. Article V gives state legislatures the power and the responsibility to remind the federal government that it is a creation of the states, that its legitimacy emanates entirely from the states, that its authority and its ultimate existence is derived wholly from the consent of the governed.
Please take a moment, if you haven’t already, and inform yourself on this critical matter by examining the information provided at the Convention of States Project website below. Then pick up the phone or send off an eMail encouraging your state representative to support Article V legislation that will add Arizona to the growing list of states determined to reign in the federal government.
In case you couldn’t tell by their actions, the GOP currently holds more seats in Congress than they have since 1929, a direct result of mid-term voters demanding change writ large. Their first action was to elect leadership, and incredibly, they chose the same floundering crew who, hand-in-hand with equally inept Democrats in Congress and the White House, have nearly scuttled the Ship of State.
We all know that the definition of “Insanity” is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Let me add one to the mix: “Treason”… which one source defines as the betrayal of a trust or confidence, a breach of faith.
If you think I’m talking about the GOP here, you’re wrong. We’d be fools to place trust in a party of elitist career politicians, on either side of the aisle. I’m talking about us. We, the People in the states… the states that joined together 2¼ centuries ago to create the federal government in the first place.
The Founders expected us to be ever-vigilant, to ensure that our federal government never strayed outside the enumerated powers enshrined in the Constitution. To assist us in meeting that tremendous responsibility, they drafted Article V, empowering state legislators to join together and instruct Congress to call a Convention of States to propose amendments to the Constitution. One such amendment, if ratified by ¾ of the states, could impose federal term limits and forever change the insanity that is Washington, DC, no matter which party is at the helm.
In their wisdom, the Founders wisely anticipated the day when the federal government would fail or refuse to respond to the demands of the states. They left us Article V to repair the defects in government perceived by We the Governed. They placed their trust in us… their confidence… their faith. To do anything less is, to some, the very definition of Treason.
Inform yourself at www.ConventionOfStates.com, then call your elected state representatives today and urge their support of an Article V Convention of States.
OK, Tom... pecking at this slippery screen like a chicken with a Q-Tip, I'll promise you two things: 1) I will do the legwork you suggest and look into the long-term results of federal term limits. And, 2) I will continue to support a Term Limits Amendment no matter what the "evidence" shows, and I'll tell you why. Your argument against the idea is so compelling that you've solidified my resolve that this is a debate the nation needs to have. And as you know, an amendments convention would be just that - a gathering of citizens, some of whom may be legislators, but others who, like you and me, will be constitutionalists with opinions that should be vetted in the bright light of the marketplace of ideas.
Tom... working from a Kindle again this morning, so will keep my response brief.
You know better than most that it's nearly impossible to prove a negative - that politicians would not be more susceptible to corruption were they not allowed to hold office infinitum.
What I CAN prove is that the Founders had a far different vision than what we are seeing today, and this picture ain't very pretty.
Lacking empirical evidence, I suppose I'm left to appeal to logic and good old common sense... if damage they must do, then less time should result in less damage... and that's about as cynical as I'm gonna get!
PS: My use of the word obfuscation was in reference to the aforementioned foes of A5.
PPS: I also should have been more clear in stating my belief that deconstructing institutional careerism IS attacking party politics. Without the promise of lifetime tenure, they lose much leverage.
PPPS: I'm not so sure about your contention that presidents and governors are "the worst of the lot," or that having term limits has anything to do with that... but I, too, am always willing to learn! :)
PPPPS: I HATE THIS KINDLE!
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We keep sending good people to Washington, only to see them disappear into the meat-grinder that is Congress, and come out the other side just so much baloney! If there were Term Limits and the candidate knew going in that their term was limited by constitutional edict, I firmly believe that they would think twice before casting a vote on legislation that could have a severe impact on the very communities to which they themselves will soon be returning… to live among the rest of us, to work at a job like a normal person again, outside of the Beltway Bubble, forced to bear the burden of whatever damned-fool laws Congress might pass with little or no concern for the unintended consequences they have on the daily lives of real people throughout this country.
And before anyone says that removing the “perks” of congressional service will cause a brain drain, and that no one of any consequence will want to run for an office that they can only hold for such a short amount of time, I would submit that if the folks up there running things right now are the best and the brightest that money, power and prestige can buy, then I think it’s time to give some of us poor, stupid people a chance… we couldn’t possibly screw it up any worse!
This may be our best and last chance… an Article V Convention of States. I hate to say it, but I’m afraid it’s finally come to the point where it really doesn’t matter who we elect anymore, because sooner or later, once they become a member of an elite class who literally exist above the very laws that they impose upon the rest of us, coupled with the realization that they can stay there forever if they just play by the rules, there’s no longer any incentive for them to exercise any discretion whatsoever. We need to change those rules, because eventually, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between any of them, and frankly… I’ve run out of dimes.
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First things first, Tom... it's not a constitutional convention, but an amendments convention. I know it may seem like a pedantic distinction, but in this instance, when foes of the Article V movement are using scare tactics, specifically raising the specter of a total re-write of the Constitution and using the term "Con-Con" in a deliberate campaign to distort and mislead, it's critical that we do what we can to educate, not obfuscate.
But more to your point. I've spoken on this matter before... possibly even posted my thoughts on this forum, but in matters of this magnitude, they may well bear repeating. The prospect of an amendment to impose lifetime term limits on all federal officials is the primary reason that I support this movement. Since the Supreme Court ruled that the voters of a sovereign state don’t have the right to impose term limits on their own locally-elected federal delegation, I can see no other way for us ever to bring an end to career politicians, including those who wear black robes to work.
Resolving that one issue, I believe, would go a very long way toward eliminating many of the most pressing issues that we face. Washington, DC, without a doubt, has become the most powerful, some would say corrupt, city in the world, and no one who enters its enormous sphere of influence can help but be changed by it... and usually not for the better.
It’s almost become trite to say, but with very few exceptions, virtually every politician’s top priority, regardless of party, platform or principle, is to get re-elected. As soon as they arrive, they are surrounded by and steeped in the career mentality that pervades Washington, D.C. It is imposed on them, infused into them, particularly by the old dogs, the veterans, the party leaders, and soon the urgency of becoming a part of that culture of power supersedes anything they may have promised during their campaign. The wants and needs of the people who sent them there – the folks back home – all take a back seat to the new imperative – raise money for the Party, and ultimately for re-election.
In order for a newly elected candidate to maintain the party’s financial support come election time, deals are made that have nothing to do with what’s in the best interest of the voters back home. Legislation is passed at the direction of the party leadership, for instance, without a single legislator having read it. Does any of this sound anything like what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they coined the term, “Citizen Legislator”?
Anyone looking for a good reason to support Mandatory Term Limits for all federal officials need look no further than the headlines. After the most resounding electoral triumph since 1947, Republican Congressional “leaders” were too afraid to do what they were elected to do – check the president's unilateral amnesty grant. They were too afraid to do what’s right for the country, too afraid that they won’t be re-elected. Job One for the Party Elite has become protecting their private power structure, not the Constitution.
During the last legislative session here in Arizona, a majority of constitutional conservatives supported legislation that would have allowed our state legislators to join 33 other states in a national convention to devise a way to end the era of the career politician by proposing, among other things, constitutionally mandated term limits on all federal elected officials. Many believed, as did the Founding Fathers, that our federal delegation should spend their terms in Washington, DC, focused on what’s best for their constituents, not their careers, that they should serve their country for a limited time, then return to their communities and live among the rest of us in the world that they helped to create.
That legislation failed due to time constraints, but a similar bill will be introduced again this year. In preparation, we should all read Article V of the US Constitution. It gives state legislatures the power and authority to circumvent a recalcitrant Congress and propose constitutional remedies, such as term limits or a balanced budget requirement, changes which must then be ratified by 38 states.
Congress will never impose such limits on itself. Article V is a tool provided by the Founders to be used at such a time when Congress ceases to represent its constituency. We should familiarize ourselves with these 143 words, imagining as we read the wisdom and the courage that it took for the Framers of the Constitution to include them. Then we should contact our state representatives and encourage them to do the same... not to save their careers, but to save the republic.
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