Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Navigating Article V"

We continue to behold the insightfulness of our founding fathers! Especially when dissecting the U.S. Constituton. Article Five confirmed concern with future political leaders' arrogance and stubborness in regard to changing or altering existing laws.

This has recently surfaced in a veiled threat to derail Obamacare. House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor sees it as an option. It works something like this:

"Article Five of the United States Constitution describes the process whereby the Constitution may be altered. Altering the Constitution consists of proposing an amendment and subsequent ratification.

"Amendments may be proposed by either two-third of both houses of the United States Congress or by a national convention. This convention can be assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the several states. To become part of the Constitution amendments must then be ratified either by approval of the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or ratifying conventions held in three-fourths of the states." 1

In essence, it would take two-thirds of the states to call a convention and three-fourths of the states to change the law. With 26 states currently filing suit, we are obviously getting close to the necessary 37 needed to kill Obamacare; or make any other change deemed necessary.

This may be the ultimate strategy for bringing about "term limits" for Senators and Congressmen.

The discussion on term limits is not extreme. It is currently practiced by a number of states. It is not new. While Kentucky Senator, Rand Paul made it an issue in his 2010 election campaign, the question has been around for years. It came up in the 1992 Presidential debate. Bill Clinton voiced his oppostion to it on grounds that "it would reduce the small states' influence." This is true. Former Arkansas Congressman, Wilbur Mills and ex-Alaska Senator, Ted Stevens wielded tremendous power due to seniority. Seniority becomes irrelevant when the maximum tenure is 12 years.

President Clinton's viewpoint holds some credence. But it also works to hold seats indefinitely for well funded Congressmen and Senators. It likewise facilitates and perpetuates the influence of lobbyists.

Our founding fathers never envisioned career politicians. The premise behind the framers' creation was a government made up of representitves from all walks of life, including different levels of society. They envisioned "citizens taking a break from their farm, business or profession to perform civic duty."

Unspoken was the assumption that such a system would insure different participants with a flow of new ideas. Senate and House seats were never considered anything but "owned" by the people of their respected states.

Over time the perception of civic duty has become somewhat altered. Thirty and Forty year tenures became commonplace. To be sure there are and have been Congressmen and Senators who have served their country honorably. There have also been a few "Bill Frists" who promised never to serve terms longer than a cumulative 12 years. But those have been the exception, not the rule.

There is an obvious reason! These House and Senate seats are some of the best jobs in America. With them comes both influence and income that far exceed the chamber and paycheck! Who would voluntarily "fire" themself from the best job in America?"

Cynics suggest that "you could never get a term limits bill through the House and and Senate." That position is wellfounded! Considering the "friction" almost certain to be at hand, it would closely resemble a "fools errand."

But what about Article Five? Could two-thirds of the states call a convention to discuss it? And if three-fourths of the states said "yes,"
could it become a reality?

"The Constitution does not make clear how the Convention is to be composed; presumably, Congress-through a federal statute-would be able to determine how the delegates are chosen and to provide for other procedural issues." 2

We can conclude that the proponent states would engage in daily if not hourly communcication. Unlike our founding fathers, they have the internet! In short, it is a viable option! If and when we decide to take this route, it would be only a matter of time.

There will never be an argument from Liberals or Conservatives regarding the ingenuity of our Constitution. Perhaps the framers predicted this day would come. Our people have grown apathetic where government is concerned. To most, "they" are in Washington and "we" are here. There is nothing that "we" can do to change that. But there is! The concept of a constitutional convention potentially brings decision making back to Main street. The founding fathers evidently thought it might become necessary to "flush out the system" from time to time. That's why Article Five included an alternative.

1- Article Five of the Constitution- Wikipedia
2- Article Five of the Constitution- 4Law School

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