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Chapter 35: How citizens can take back Congress

September 7, 2012

The common sense, brave hearts, and hard work of regular Americans made this country great.

Somehow we have allowed an elite political class—career politicians, their public relations experts, special interest lobbyists, central planners, bureaucrats, journalists, and a variety of other so called experts—to dominate political discourse in this country. These self-appointed experts have made a mess of it!

I still believe that regular citizens—like you and me—can do something about it. We can reclaim our government and restore America to a government “of, for, and by” the people. We should at least try, right? You can do your part by recommending this book to your family and friends and mentioning it during your social networking activities.

If citizens put enough pressure on them, politicians could be compelled to adopt reforms. If not, it may require four amendments to the Constitution, worded something like this:

  1. Congressional compensation and term limits. No individual may serve more than twelve years in the United States Congress. Congressional salaries may not exceed the median income of citizens. There shall be no pensions or benefits for elected federal officials beyond Social Security and their own self-funded retirement accounts and insurance policies. Elected federal officials shall not accept any gift with a value exceeding $100, participate in initial public stock offerings or insider trading, or accept any government or government influence–related employment for at least four years after leaving office. (Also see the “Congressional Reform” chapter.)
  2. Lobbyists, conflicts, and transparency. Any citizen or group that wishes to influence congressional legislation must submit their positions in writing. Any verbal communications with members of Congress about pending legislation must be followed by a confirming memo. With the exception of sensitive national security issues, transcripts of all congressional hearings shall be posted on the Internet for public access. All communications to members of Congress regarding specific legislation shall be posted on the Internet for public access at least twenty-four hours prior to congressional votes. Members of Congress shall be permitted to cast their votes electronically, so their physical presence in the nation’s capital will no longer be necessary. (See the “Congressional Reform” chapter for more details.)
  3. Campaign contributions. Candidates for elected federal offices shall accept campaign contributions only from individual citizens. Campaign contributions by businesses, political action committees, labor unions, trade associations, and other groups shall not be permitted. All campaign contributions must be made a least one month prior to the applicable election, and full disclosure of the amount and source of each contribution shall be posted online at least two weeks prior to the election. (Also see the “Election Reform” chapter.)
  4. Federal government overreach. The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”) is reaffirmed, and Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution ([The Congress shall have Power] “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes) is amended to delete these words: “and among the several States.” (See the “Government” chapter for more information.)

All Constitutional amendments adopted thus far have been proposed by two-thirds of both houses of Congress and ratified by at least 75 percent of the states (once by state conventions; all others by state legislatures).

So the proven path would be for citizens to put enough pressure on Congress to start the process, and then put enough pressure on their state legislatures to ratify the amendments.

But if Congress won’t propose amendments that would actually solve the problem, the Constitution provides two other ways for amendments to be adopted:

  • Proposed by constitutional conventions in two-third of the states, and then ratified by 75 percent of the state constitutional conventions
  • Proposed by constitutional conventions in two-thirds of the states, and then ratified by 75 percent of the state legislatures

Any of these approaches would be difficult. But if citizens become disgusted enough with America’s broken politics, they can make it happen.

  1. Mike Ruddell permalink

    I think the length of the process of getting re-elected and or elected is way too long and drawn out. It necessitates the accumulation of excessive amounts of PAC money for example. Shortening the period of time they can campaign is a possible solution. The reality of it is that they spend more time running for the office, than actually serving their constituents.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Action Plan to Save America « Fixing America's Broken Politics
  2. Book chapters, with live links « Fixing America's Broken Politics
  3. Ten More Election Surprises? | Fixing America's Broken Politics

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