“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” Albert Einstein (attributed), 1879-1955
There is wisdom in these words that seems to be applicable to our nation's current situation. If the people of any country in the world has the capacity to solve their own problems it is the citizens of the United States. We are currently impeded only by our federal and state governments that abjectly refuse to withdraw from their failed roles as our self-appointed “chief problem solvers”.
If ever proof was required of Thoreau's maxim: “The government is best which governs least,” the last 60 years or so of U. S. history should settle the question. By most measures the United States has lost ground during this era that ushered in the nanny-state. Our government, with the best of intentions, has attempted to equalize all from cradle to grave. This path would have been disastrous enough if its intended beneficiaries had only been U. S. citizens but clearly our leaders have exhibited a determination to eliminate all national distinctions.
This patriot is still proud to be an American and knows that the people of the United States of America are exceptional. We can create solutions from a different “level of thinking”. Just as the founders of this nation had to think “outside of the box” and to brave criticism for being non-conformists, our generation of leaders will very quickly need to assert ourselves and do the same. I do believe that we are likely the last generation that will have the opportunity to salvage this great experiment in self-government.
President Eisenhower stated this truism in his first inaugural address, he said, "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." Our nation has devolved to the point that there are fewer and fewer of us who know what it is to live and prosper without a government handout. Notice that I did not say that the majority of us would not be happier and better off without that handout, but the fact is that many of our fellow citizens have grown to adulthood without independence as a part of their frame of reference.
There is reason to be optimistic, arresting our national deterioration has begun. It began when “we the people” became involved and spoke through the ballot box this past November. However, history and common sense dictate that this can only be a partial solution. Even if the 2014 elections are followed with additional common sense changes in office holders in 2016 we cannot assure our children that their nation will not repeat the mistakes of the past. More concrete changes to our government's framework will be required. The empowered and entrenched bureaucracies and their constituent special interests will still exert their influence and power behind the scenes to circumvent any change that might limit the size and growth of federal or state power in any significant way.
It is past time for “we the people” to originate, by whatever means is available to us, a Constitutional Convention so that we can refine the document that governs us. It was Thomas Jefferson himself who said in 1823, “Whatever be the Constitution, great care must be taken to provide a mode of amendment when experience or change of circumstances shall have manifested that any part of it is unadapted to the good of the nation.”
The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence reads in part, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
A mechanism for amending our Constitution is provided for in Article V of that document. I am not a legal scholar and don't represent that I know the best way to get a Constitutional Convention called or organized. Nor do I think that anyone of us has all of the right answers as to how best to amend the Constitution to achieve more stable protection of our individual rights and liberties. I do know that the kind of permanent, positive change our nation needs will not likely originate in a Congress that has a vested interest in keeping government as complex and all encompassing as possible.
I would encourage anyone who cares to work for positive change to keep this discussion alive. Encourage your State Representative and Senator to consider the necessity and urgency of our cause. Two thirds of our State Legislatures, by application to Congress, can trigger the organization of a Constitutional Convention. There may exist other mechanisms for triggering a convention and if there are these should also be pursued.
A Constitutional Convention should allow free and open debate of the possible solutions to the abuses that have allowed our great Constitution and its framers' clear intent to be so blatantly disregarded. Whatever the proposals of the Convention, the people as a whole would have the opportunity to vote to enact or not to enact any changes. Our original Bill of Rights, the first set of amendments to our Constitution, included twelve articles of which only ten were immediately affirmed by a vote of the people.
To originate a thread on this debate, I would propose several areas for consideration:
Repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments.
Require that members of Congress and their staffs be paid by their respective states, making them state rather than federal employees.
Enact a balanced budget amendment.
Enact a flat or fair tax.
There are those who seem to be seeking genuine solutions. Among them Representative Paul Ryan has been in the news lately. His proposal to cut federal spending should be fully released by the time you read this. It is incumbent on each of us to stay informed and to be prepared to support efforts to lead this nation away from the abyss.
If you haven't read them recently in their entirety I would urge you to read the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution. If you need a copy, ask and I'll send you one. The Federalist Papers is another important set of papers that can be obtained in paperback or from a library. It provides valuable insight into the intent of the authors of our Constitution.
Thanks for all that each of you does to defend and protect our great nation.
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"Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people."