When I first became an active observer of politics Ronald Reagan had just been elected to his first term and although the economy was still suffering from the Carter years there was a sense of optimism in the country and profound hope for a better future. Today that optimism is gone and the hope we had for the future has been displaced by a feeling of helplessness as politicians in Washington seem intent on growing the size of government rather than heeding the will of the voters.
Despite the fact that Americans are not happy with the direction the country is headed our elected representatives seem to only be aware of our existence while they campaign for reelection. Obamacare was passed over the objection of the majority of voters and Republicans promised to repeal the unpopular law during the 2010 mid-terms. President Obama recently announced his plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, a plan opposed by a large majority of Americans, and Republicans ran for Congress promising to stop it. Funding for both have been passed with Republican support in the House and Senate, and now we have been treated to videos of Jonathan Gruber saying the administration relied on deception and the stupidity of voters to enact Obamacare. Is it any wonder Rasmussen reports Congressional approval ratings in the single digits?
Even though they just voted in a new Republican majority, voters still give Congress dismal marks and the majority believe members get reelected because the system is rigged.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just eight percent (8%) of Likely U.S. Voters rate Congress’s performance as good or excellent, unchanged from the last two months. Sixty-four percent (64%) rate their performance as poor, also in line with earlier surveys.
The feeling that the majority of voters believe the system is rigged is understandable since, even with these dismal approval ratings, the vast majority of incumbents were returned to Congress in the past election. Incumbency has its privileges, putting any challengers at a distinct disadvantage. Political parties would rather defend a poorly performing incumbent in the primary than to have to support a newcomer in the general election. An example of how the system is rigged can be found in the recent CRomnibus bill which contained changes to campaign finance laws that increased the limits for individual contributions to national party committees from $97,200 to as much as $777,600 while outside groups such as Tea Party political action committees are limited to $10,000.. Rules such as these are designed to protect those who pass them from being vulnerable to voter dissatisfaction, and have brought us to the brink of literally having the out of control government conservatives have been fighting to prevent.
What can be done about it?
If the election process has been corrupted to the point that voters are powerless to stop government excess, what do we do? A perusal of social media will net an abundance of opinions ranging from complete surrender to calls for taking up arms. Having once taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, surrendering my freedom to an out of control government is not an option. Although I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, given to us by the framers of the Constitution as our last line of defense against tyranny, I do not believe we have yet reached a point that justifies such drastic action. Although that day might come, we must be careful to use every other Constitutional remedy available to us before we take our last resort, and I believe a valuable option can be found in Article V:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate. – Article V, U.S. Constitution
It should be intuitive that if we allow government to make the rules by which it operates, those rules will allow government to continue to grow and assume more power. That process was held in check until 1913 with the ratification of the 17th Amendment which provided for the direct election of members of the Senate. Prior to this, Senators were elected by the state legislatures, giving each state government a voice in Washington. This change, promoted by Progressives, has permitted a steady erosion of the power and authority of state governments in favor of the federal government.
Talk radio host and president of Landmark Legal Foundation Mark Levin, in his book The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, has called for a convention of states to be held for the purpose of ratifying a series of amendments to the Constitution designed to reign in the federal government and return powers usurped by the federal government to the states. The book details 11 proposed Amendments Levin believes would restore the proper balance of power between state and federal governments. An organization called the Convention of States Project is advocating for state legislatures to call for a convention of states and is building a nationwide organization in support of the idea.
According to a spokesperson for the organization the legislatures of 34 states must pass a resolution calling for such a convention by a simple majority, without the need for a governor’s signature. Ratification of any amendments passed by the Convention requires approval of 38 states. To date Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have passed such resolutions, and 20 – 30 states will take up the issue in 2015. Their goal is to get 34 states to pass the measure by 2016 thereby making it an issue in the 2016 Presidential election.
Although this process has never been used, it is clearly authorized by the Constitution and was specifically intended to be used in times such as these. Those of us who feel an obligation to support and defend the Constitution must recognize that we also have an obligation to make use of all of the remedies given to us in that document. Through this process we can take back the power to make the rules by which Washington operates and remind our elected officials who they work for.