Yesterday this post addressed why a Con-Con is little more than a great con making it singularly the worst idea since Eve ate the fruit in the Garden. Not only is the convention itself a bad idea, but some of the proposed amendments are not so good either.
Let’s begin with the suggestion of term limits for Congressmen. This concept sounds so good on the surface. Our elected leaders would be limited to a certain number of years in Washington DC. Surely they couldn’t do too much harm in a few years. After that time, they would have to come home and take up a real job once again in order to provide for their needs. They would no longer have the first hand access to business and world leaders that they enjoyed while in Congress. No more $5000 a plate fundraisers for them. They would just be a ‘regular Joe’ who lived in the community.
Except that that’s not what would actually happen.
In case you’ve missed it, man is fallen. We are by our very nature inherently evil. Just what could a congressman do with those years? He could set himself up for a grand lifestyle for the rest of his life. How? He gets elected and begins by doing the same thing that our current congress does: little to nothing. But he talks about what he does with his constituents, brings back plenty of federal funding for his district, and has $5000 per plate fundraisers to make sure that he gets elected again. Then, right before his time in office has expired, he, and others just like him, vote themselves into a hefty pension and benefits for life. Why wouldn’t they? They no longer have to answer for their actions to anyone! All accountability is gone. They already know their time is up so they no longer have to work for the benefit of anyone – except for themselves.
Ultimately, term limits are the wrong answer for the wrong problem. How long a legislator stays in office is not the root of the problem. The real problem is found in what they do when they get there. According to The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, clearly outlines every single thing upon which Congress is permitted to act. Congress, among other things, has the power to set and collect taxes, provide for the common defense and general welfare, borrow money, regulate commerce with other nations and between the states, establish the rules for naturalizing citizens, coin money, establish Post Offices, promote the arts and sciences, establish federal courts, punish pirates, declare war, make rules concerning prisoners, provide for an army and navy and arm them, repel invasions, maintain authority over military bases, and pass laws regarding these things.
What Article I, Section 8, does NOT say is equally important. It never mentions education, but we have a federal Department of Education. It never mentions healthcare, yet they passed the federal healthcare mandates (AKA ‘Obamacare’). It never mentions sports, yet they routinely hold hearings to see if something in the football or baseball leagues is legal. And Article I, Section 8 of The Constitution does NOT mention energy, yet we have a federal Department of Energy, there are multitudes of regulations passed by congress that concern energy use, and they even outlawed some light bulbs! Why do we allow this behavior to go unchecked?
In reality, if we, the people did our jobs as citizens and refused to allow our congressmen to violate the rule of law in The Constitution, they would get bored coming up with new ways for foreign nationals to become citizens and declaring wars in a couple of years and come home on their own accord. No term limits would be necessary.
If we, the people, want our congressmen to stop their abuse of power, then we need to give them a reason to behave. They must be held accountable. The re-election rate is high among congressmen. We allow them to get away with their evil activity when we re-elect them. It is incumbent upon us to find lawmakers who have a servant’s heart and will do the right thing when elected. And when they stop, we need to work to find someone else who will.
But the average citizen can’t even name any of their congressman and they rarely have any idea as to what mischievous crimes their legislators are committing. This is the root of the problem, but it has not always been so.
“When Davy Crockett was a US Representative from Tennessee, he had an experience that drove this principle (social spending) home for him. One day, while lounging on the Capitol steps with some other Congressmen, they saw a fire raging in Georgetown. Crockett and the others rode to the fire and worked to get it under control (imagine that happening now, if you can). When the fire was out, a number of people had been left homeless. The next morning, on the House floor, a bill appropriating $20,000 to relieve the victims of the fire was rushed through on a recorded vote. Crockett voted in favor of the bill.
The next summer, when he was up for re-election, Colonel Crockett went back to his home district to do some campaigning. People seemed happy enough with him, until he ran into a man named Horatio Bunce, a well-respected resident of the district. Mr. Bunce told Davy in no uncertain terms that he could not vote for him again. He accused the Congressman of not having the capacity to understand the Constitution, citing the $20,000 appropriation as evidence.
Noting that giving charity is not one of the powers of Congress enumerated in the Constitution, Mr. Bunce told Davy, “…while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he…If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.””
How did Horatio Bunce know about Crockett’s vote for the appropriations bill? He couldn’t access it on the internet. He didn’t hear about it from a radio talk show host. Flyers, leaflets, and mail pieces weren’t sent to him by the opposition candidate. The best educated guess we have is that Bunce may have read about it in a newspaper. Bunce was a well-respected member of the community because he was a hard worker in the community. He didn’t live a life of leisure. Yet, he made it a point to research how his elected officials were voting on his behalf and held them accountable for their votes.
We have access to several government websites, multiple PAC websites, the Congressional record, email addresses for our legislators, radio talk show hosts who cover these votes, and hours of TV programming related to congress. So what is your excuse for not knowing the voting record of your elected officers? What’s your excuse for permitting them to stay in office for so long? Quit demanding regulations and laws to do something that you ought to be doing anyway.