The federal government is unable to control its printing of money. The nation has accumulated massive debt. Wars have continued for years without Congress declaring war. Congress ignores pressing issues such as immigration and health care and fails to enact budgets or appropriations regularly. We need to ask ourselves; can we stop the runaway train before it crashes causing significant injury to the nation?
Our Constitution has many braking systems in place to stop a runaway government, but so far, they have all failed. Primarily, our system of checks and balances which was devised to ensure each branch of government operated as a check on the other branches. As our elected representatives give more and more loyalty to the political party, they are a member of, than to the institution in which they serve, the power of the institution of Congress dwindles leaving only the power of the political party to check the overreaching activities of the opposing political party.
The Executive branch aggressively seeks to increase its power through Executive Order and the issuance of regulations to carry out the intent of the Executive rather than the intent of Congress, thus further diminishing the powers of Congress and the checks and balances so necessary restraining the powers of the federal government.
Our courts affirm the delegation of legislative authority from Congress to the Executive through the passage of broad and vague laws that require the Executive to fill in the legislative blanks. Moreover, when the blanks are filled in, the courts give deference to agency action, viewing the agency as the expert, notwithstanding congressional intent.
The other mechanisms in our Constitution to control a massive federal government have also failed. Every year Congress has the opportunity to control spending through appropriations, yet every year appropriations and our debt increase. In 1970 our debt was $371 billion; in 1982 our national debt reached $1 trillion for the first time, and today we are reaching twenty-two trillion dollars. It is projected that we will add a trillion dollars to our debt every year going forward. If Congress can’t utilize its absolute control over spending to keep the nation living within our means, and the Executive refuses to veto expenditures we cannot afford, then the checks and balances established by our Constitution are useless.
Another possibility is for the people of this nation to control Congress through a common activity that can regularly be utilized – voting. If our present government is failing us, we can change our entire government over six years. Our founders provided us a legal form of peaceful revolution at the ballot box. Unfortunately, it appears that the citizens of this nation are just as split and angry as the politicians in Congress, thus leaving us without the ability to control the federal government.
Fortunately, there is one final option, but one never utilized, to put the brakes on an out-of-control federal government. Article V of the Constitution places such power in the hands of the fifty state legislatures. Under Article V, upon application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, (34), Congress must call a Convention to propose Amendments to the Constitution. The Amendments adopted by the Convention become part of our Constitution if ratified by three-fourths, (38), of the state legislatures or by Conventions of three – fourths of the several states. The method or ratification is up to Congress, and that is the only power Congress has if thirty-four states submit similar applications to Congress.
The state convention process cannot be denied, vetoed or regulated by Congress or the governors of the respective states. The selected delegates would control the Convention. While there have been over four hundred applications to call a Convention of the States, there has not been a sufficient number of states making the same or similar applications.
The point of raising the Article V, Constitutional Amendment process, is not to promote a Convention of the States, a group of the same name is actively pursuing that. My point is to remind all members of the state legislatures that they have taken an Oath that binds them to support the Constitution of the United States as currently constituted. If the state legislatures believe that the massive, debt-ridden, federal government that presently runs our nation is not operating it within the framework of our Constitution, the state legislatures must act for the citizens of the country.
While members of these state legislature may view their duties solely as state functions, the oath they have taken to the Constitution obligates them to ensure the federal government works according to the Constitution. If the federal government operates outside of the Constitution, the state legislatures have been given the constitutional responsibility to save the Republic with a Convention that hopefully restores common sense to the operations of our federal government. If a consensus on Amendments comes out of the convention, the convention delegates will have to persuade the American people and their state legislatures that controlling the federal government is essential to the nation. Reaching a consensus on one or more Constitutional Amendments to control the federal government will be our best chance to reflect not only what we want the country to be, but it will also tell us if we can save the nation.
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