I wrote the first part of this article a week ago to set the stage to discuss, not the divisiveness of the country which is often vehemently displayed daily in the political arena, but the commonality of ideas most Americans may be able to agree upon in a sane discussion. The country is divided by ideology with approximately 60% of the population situated "inside the goal posts" with one upright being the liberal-progressive ultra left and the ultra conservative being the other upright. For those who don't understand football we'll just say that 60% fall somewhere in between the two extremes of political thought.
This discussion has become necessary because unless the country can come to an agreement on basic issues and problems, we are at peril of losing everything that made America the beacon of freedom and liberty of the world. What is on the horizon could spell the end of the America we know amid political chaos that is sure to find its way to the surface with a call for a Constitutional Convention by the 34 states.
As schools have done little to teach civics and American history; and I am talking about REAL American history dating back to the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary period where America broke away from Colonial rule by England and embarked on the greatest experiment in governance the world has ever witnessed, most are not aware of Article V (Roman numeral 5) of the U.S. Constitution which addresses making amendments to the U.S. Constitution...the Supreme Law of the Land.
The United States Constitution is unusually difficult to amend and was intentionally made difficult by the Founders to protect the minority so as not to fall prey to the spontaneous whims of those in power. An example of this might be that the party in power deciding to pass a law limiting all families to only one child. After one child, the parents would be forced to undergo sterilization. This is not as crazy at it may sound . China has a one-child limit, but the wealthy can pay a stiff fine and have another, while the poor face heavy fines and ridicule. In the heat of today's political debate we have seen politicians, from the President on down, seeking to overstep their authority, most of which has been used to gain more power and limit the freedoms of the citizen.
As spelled out in Article V, the Constitution can be amended in one of two ways.
First, an amendment can take place by a vote of two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate followed by a ratification of three-fourths of the various state legislatures (ratification by thirty-eight states would be required to ratify an amendment today). This first method of amendment is the only one used to date, and has been used 27 times to make needed changes in the Constitution.
Second, the Constitution may be amended by a Convention called for a specific purpose by two-thirds of the state legislatures, and that the Convention's proposed amendment(s) must later be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures.
As I stated in the first part of this article written last week, most Americans believe they are right in their political beliefs and to hell with those who foster other ideas, so it was very prudent of the Founders to have had such wisdom as to make basic changes to the Constitution possible but via a difficult and painstaking process often taking a year or more to complete the process, or as was the case of the Equal Rights Amendment several years.
The political leanings of Americans as previously outlined in Part 1, can be simplified as follows:
- The Liberal-progressives
- The Liberals (Mainstream Democrats)
- Conservatives (Mainstream Republicans)
- The Ultra Conservatives
It is safe to assume that some will not agree that these classifications can be made so simple because Democrats often act like conservatives (at least in what they tell their constituents in their quest to get elected and then re-elected)...i.e "I'm for this or that but believe in staying within budget, raising taxes only on the rich, and keeping America on a 'pay-as-we-go' path". Republicans might say, "I'm for giving you all these benefits, so vote for me, but remember I'm for a balanced budget, strong military, and cutting spending".
They say what might appeal to their constituents, but both mean nearly the same. I contend there's not a whole lot of difference between the two parties, especially after a politician gets a taste of the power and influence they receive once they arrive in Washington DC. While more prevalent today than at other periods in our history, this has given rise to calls for a "Third Party". In short, nearly everyone is fed-up with politics and a politician's desire to "go-along to get along".
Fortunately or unfortunately depending on where you stand, the U.S. is not like any other country on earth. It was design and has operated relatively successfully on a Two Party System of Government. Occasionally an Independent candidate might get past the electorate and successfully win an election, but 99.9+% of the winners will be either Democrat or Republican. We are not set-up like countries which rule via parliaments that lead to many different groups all forming their own political parties, none of which generally win an election by themselves. To win they often form a coalition of parties to gain enough of a majority to win but that might become an indefinite period of time, as discontent can result in a vote of "no confidence". Many of us have witnessed heated parliamentary debates in Japan and Western Europe that ended up in a fistfights over asserting a specific point of view.
In the state of Michigan lawmakers have voted to join with 33 other states to demand a Constitutional Convention meeting the number of states as required by the Constitution. Michigan's demand is for a balanced amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While many of the other states wish to take issue with other concerns it is a sure bet that the move will set into motion a never-tested, widely feared convention with the power to rewrite part of the founding document. Nevertheless as entrenched as the federal bureaucracy is in controlling all issues that pertain to American freedom and liberty, often to the detriment of the citizens, before the legislature grants this most valuable of Constitutional rights, the demand will probably have to face the Supreme Court. it should be apparent to all, liberal or conservative, granting the power to amend the Constitution directly by the people will be rigorously objected to by those seeking to maintain their often uncontested use of power.
If I sound cynical it is because such a direct movement by the citizens to redress the concerns as to where the country is headed, will be most likely met with the unflinching opposition of Congress and the President. It is also a lifelong lesson I have learn which my parents taught me about "being careful of what you wish for". Opening this can of worms could be met with complete chaos among the attendees as to the vast number of way changes might happen from such a Constitutional Convention at this point in history. Additionally, once this manner of amending the Constitution has been used, it may lead to a never ending line-up of conventions to put control back in the hands of the citizens.
The various political factions have been identified above and I am not saying one side is all good or one side is all bad, but if we are going to be discussing what is wrong with the country and looking for answers, we had better understand each other. That should not be as difficult as most would imagine for the majority of caring citizens, but as input has been forthcoming from my readers this past week it looks to be a little more lengthy than I originally thought. So I'll have to present this "Part 2" into Part 2-A and Part 2-B.
THE ISSUES NEEDING TO BE ADDRESSED:
A Balanced Budget: Every company; every family; and every individual is forced to live within certain budgetary constraints. The Federal Budget should be a priority interest for everybody as we actually surpassed our GDP (gross domestic product) in deficit spending in 2012, and no matter how you look at it, we are headed toward a public debt our children and grandchildren will never be able to pay back.
Secure borders: By its very definition, a 'country" is defined by its borders without which there would be no country. Knowing who is in the country is the very first step in the insuring the safety of the citizens and in maintaining law and order. As we are all immigrants except the decedents of Native Americans, it is hard for me to imagine anyone not understanding the need to resolve this issue through some form of compromise in current immigration law, and still protect current citizens from loss of job opportunity and a sinking annual family income.
The Federal Reserve: Since 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, the government opted to place the important issue of monetary policy with an independent monetary board called The Federal Reserve, and since 1914 there have been calls to re-visit this decision as there is virtually no Congressional oversight and apparently no one looking out for the "public interest". The 12 Federal Reserve Banks appear to be "fronts for crony capitalism" running amuck and creating vast wealth for the "chosen few" (AKA "Fat-Cat Bankers"), at the expense of the taxpaying citizen, while creating an unfathomable and insurmountable interest debt, amounting to an estimated $500,000,000,000 (1/2 Trillion) this year alone.
Education: The education of our children has slipped to an all-time low in educational performance since being stolen away from local, state control by the Federal Government. It has become an entrenched bureaucracy in which the diminishing test scores are dropping like an anchor. The public education system is in chaos with nearly 37% of the students (nationally) not finishing high school, all the while our elected politicians send their children to the best private schools money can buy...school that are beyond the cost of most families. The bureaucrats continue to reject vouchers, charter schools, and fight parents wanting to home school their children instead imprisoning them to institutions of questionable learning.
The facts don't lie: Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students. We spent over $151,000 per student sending the graduating class of 2009 through public schools. The result of federal control over education would never make it in a free market competitive environment.
End of Part 2-A.