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The tragedies in the Middle East and Ukraine: why our state legislators might initiate reform

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Our Constitution makes our state governments responsible for governing their respective states, for conducting their states' relations with one another according to guidelines established by the federal government and (in Article V) for checking the federal government when it becomes corrupt and oppressive.

Our federal government has become corrupt and oppressive in large part because of the failure of our constitutional safeguards -- for example, our election and impeachment systems. The right to repair these systems is given "the people" in the Preamble to our Declaration of Independence. However, the responsibility for initiating the specific methods for repairing them is assigned by Article V of our Constitution to state legislatures. This, in effect, makes the states responsible for reining in the federal government when it becomes corrupt and oppressive.

Unfortunately, the states legislatures have neither acknowledged nor carried out this responsibility. This article discusses why our legislators might be more inclined now to take on the job.

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Increasing alternative media attention

The alternative media are beginning to discuss the need for repairing our democracy. That is, they are discussing the need for reining in our plutocracy. While they continue to focus on the consequences of our plutocracy (for example, invasions and the widening of our income gap) they also deal with the root problem -- the dominance of our country by a wealthy few. For example, Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way Foundation, made this point in her article titled "First Things First" as early as Jan 24, 2014. More recently, on March 29, 2015, Andrew Schmookler published, here on OpEdNews, an article titled "Big Money vs. The People: the main political battle of our times."

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Increasing constituent pressure for federal reform

A December, 2013, MSNBC poll "found that 90% of respondents said they'd support a law that imposes tough new campaign finance laws. When "campaign finance" was changed to "corruption," that figure rose to 97%, with 72% saying they would strongly support such laws. There was essentially no partisan difference on the issue: 82% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans said reducing corruption is important" It is probable that these figures are even higher today.

The continuing desire of NCSL to accomplish its mission

The mission statement of the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) reads, in part "NCSL is committed to the success of all legislators and staff. Our mission is" (among other things) to "ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system." How could NCSL better accomplish this part of its mission than by assisting state legislatures in carrying out the all-important duty assigned them by Article V?

Career opportunities for state legislators

Most of us have a natural and positive desire to learn new skills and further our careers. Any serious attempt to loosen the grip of our plutocrats on Congress would include a term limit of no more than six years total in Congress. This would greatly increase the opportunities for state legislators to broaden their experience by working at the federal level.

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Less fear of party-dominated or"runaway" conventions

Neither state legislators (nor other interested Americans) need fear that reform might lead to a party-dominated convention. In the first place, the initial step in a carefully planned reform effort would probably not include a convention. It would far more likely involve the proposal of a specific amendment or amendments. Further, should a later convention be called, it would in all probability be organized by the states rather than by Congress. In this case, the state legislatures could require that selection of delegates be by "money-free" elections held specifically for that purpose. They could also limit the scopes of conventions if they so desired. [1]

It is the right thing to do

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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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