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The Tragedies in the Middle East and Ukraine: Caging the Lynx

By       Message Neal Herrick     Permalink
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Our country is getting deeper and deeper into the maze created by its manipulation of other country's difficulties. It may take a major disaster, at this point, to cause us to re-chart our course. The "major disaster," unfortunately, might be a nuclear war.

There appears to be little likelihood that our government, as it is now constituted, will reduce our military and curtail its interventions abroad. We have created enemies over the years that now force us to defend ourselves. Further, our leaders have adopted a "preventive strike" philosophy.

We need to remove the reins of foreign (and domestic) policy from the hands of our plutocracy and take them into our own hands. We have nothing to gain and a great deal to lose by foreign policies that necessitate warfare and by domestic policies that increase our income gap. Policies guided by us (the people) could not be worse and would probably be better than those now guided by our plutocracy.

"Big money" has made our election system virtually useless. Our only chance of placing ourselves (the people) in a position where we can control foreign and domestic policies is to amend our Constitution so as to "re form" our federal government. Only our state legislatures have the power to amend our Constitution. This article discusses some of the hurdles they would face in undertaking such a task.

Reaching general agreement among the state legislatures

In 1974, fortunately for us, our state legislators created the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). The NCSL is a bi-partisan and highly democratic organization capable of speaking with one voice for the state legislatures. This makes it possible for the NCSL to confront the first and greatest difficulty facing genuine reform: creating a united front of ordinary Americans from all political parties to work toward a common goal. This common goal is to rein in our plutocracy and allow our federal government to become democratic in fact as well as in name.

It is also fortunate for all of us that the state legislators created the NCSL as a check on the federal government, when needed, and as a guardian of democracy. Its mission statement makes this clear. It reads "Our mission is to (1) Improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures, (2) promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures and (3) ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system.

There is no question but what the state legislatures, and only the state legislatures, have the power to "new model" [2] our federal government. New modeling can be accomplished only be amending our Constitution and Article V gives this power exclusively to our state legislatures. The "new modeling" of our federal government could be accomplished by the ratification of specific amendments by of the 50 state legislatures Again, fortunately for all of us, there is an organization in place (the NCSL) that is in a position to consult with both its member legislators and with their legislatures on whether or not they wish to exercise this power.

Agreeing on the text of a pre-convention amendment

Should the state legislatures decide to take on the task of reforming our federal government, the NCSL is positioned to get the agreement of its members and their state legislatures on the specific language of the initial amendment to be proposed. [3] While genuine reform will require a convention, as discussed in previous articles, a convention is not feasible until a prior amendment removes its dangers. For example, a prior amendment could prohibit the use of private money in federal (to include delegate) elections. This would strike an immediate blow to the gut of our plutocracy, at the same time clearing the ground for a comprehensive reform convention. The prior amendment could also assure a non-partisan initial convention by limiting it to reform issues. Further, the prior amendment could authorize the state legislatures to establish guidelines for it and subsequent conventions.

Agreeing on a standard application for a reform convention

Since the legislatures would control the scope, rules of order etc. of conventions being applied for, it should be less difficult to get general agreement on a standard application form. Further, applying for an initial convention to reform the federal government is a natural bi-partisan action.

Avoiding congressional "road blocking" of a reform convention

It is true that Congress has ignored hundreds of state applications for proposing conventions. However, it would be difficult for Congress to ignore a single application signed by 2/3 of the state legislatures. A single application would overcome Congress's objections based on dissimilarity of purpose, expiration of old applications and the withdrawal of some applications.

Establishing guidelines for conventions

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Neal Herrick is author of the award-wining After Patrick Henry (2009). His most recent book is (2014) Reversing America’s Decline. He is a former sailor, soldier, auto worker, railroad worker, assistant college football coach, (more...)
 

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